The plan by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reopen Hagia Sophia, one of the Architectural Wonders of the World for Muslim
worship as a mosque has received backlash from the Christian community and neighbouring
President Erdogan had
announced on Friday that the Hagia Sophia, one of the architectural wonders of the world, would be reopened for Muslim worship as a mosque.
President Erdogan declaration came after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Byzantine monument’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.
In a nationwide address, Erdogan’s said the first Muslim prayers at the Hagia Sophia would be performed on July 24, “God willing, we will perform Friday prayers all together on July 24 and reopen Hagia Sophia to worshipping.
“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims.”
The UNESCO World Heritage site in
historic Istanbul, a magnet for tourists
worldwide, was first constructed as a
cathedral in the Christian Byzantine
Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Last year, 3.8 million tourists visited the monument.
The Council of State, Turkey’s highest
administrative court, unanimously
cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision to turn it into a museum and said Hagia Sophia was registered as a mosque in its property deeds.
The landmark ruling could inflame
tensions not just with the West and
Turkey’s historic foe Greece but also
Russia, with which Erdogan has forged an increasingly close partnership in recent years.
Credit: Channels TV