The top court in Turkey ruled in favor of turning Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.
The epitome of the Byzantine architecture, the Hagia Sophia was built in 537 A.D, on the order of the Roman Emperor Justinian I. It was built as the third Church, the last one was destroyed by the rioters. It was the world’s largest cathedral for almost a thousand years until 1453 when the Sultan Mehmet II has conquered Constantinople and converted it into the Mosque. According to historians, he offered his first prayer in Constantinople inside Hagia Sophia.
Almost 86 years ago, it was turned into a museum by the founder of modern Turkey state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. According to historians, this was one of Ataturk’s steps to create Turkey not an Islamic but a secular state.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to change the status of Hagia Sophia and revert it into Mosque.
The President in his address to the nation said, “we will perform Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia together on 24th July and reopen it for worship.”
He further added, “the doors of Hagia Sophia will be opened for all the people of the world, irrespective of their religion, like our all other mosques.”
Turkey’s highest administrative court, Council of State, revoked 1934 cabinet decision of making it a museum, unanimously.
Religious affairs directorate will look after the affairs of the mosque and make it a place for Muslim worship as per the directions of the President.
In his televised address, President Erdogan assured that it would also be opened for Non-Muslim tourists. He said, “It is a common heritage of humanity. It will welcome everyone, irrespective of their religion, in a more sincere and free spirit with its new status.”
Along with that, President Erdogan urged everyone to “respect” the decision of Turkey. He said that “Reverting Hagia Sophia into the Mosque is Turkey’s internal decision, any criticism would be considered as a violation of our independence.”
Reaction To The Court Ruling
On the other hand, the Western world has reacted against the decision and called the decision “open provocation” to the world.
The Hagia Sophia is a symbolic UNESCO World Heritage site. The US and Orthodox Christian leaders have urged Turkey to keep its status as a museum.
Greek Cypriot administration, Greece’s culture ministry, and the Russian Orthodox Church also condemned the decision and expressed their concerns on revoking the status of Hagia Sophia.
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