RT: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed a decree opening the world-famous Hagia Sophia as a mosque, after a court ruled that its conversion to a museum in the 1930s was unlawful.
For those who don't know, really near to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Turks built the Blue Mosque, which is newer and big enough for all the muslims in the area (and then some).— The Duke (@thedukeoriginal) July 10, 2020
Erdogan is just trying to provoke christians and show to muslims worldwide he is their leader. pic.twitter.com/f0U9JONWHY
The court ruled on Friday that the 1934 decree converting the ancient Byzantine cathedral into a museum was not lawful. Immediately after the ruling, Erdogan shared a copy of a decree on Twitter, mandating that the site be turned over to the country’s religious directorate and reopened for worship.
The architectural jewel Hagia Sophia can be converted from museum to mosque, a Turkish court said. The change was long sought by Turkey’s president. https://t.co/TnJVYqmZjE— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 10, 2020
Dating back to the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most visited cultural sites in Turkey, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s official: a court in Turkey has just ruled to convert the nearly 1500 year old Hagia Sophia (a church under the Byzantines, a mosque under the Ottomans, and a museum under their secular successors) into a mosque.— Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) July 10, 2020
Photo via AFP pic.twitter.com/h8e1GOlye8
UNESCO has expressed concern over Erdogan’s vision for the historic structure, noting in a statement on Friday that the building has a “strong symbolic and universal value.” It called on Turkey to “engage in dialogue” before taking any steps that might impact its universal value.
ALSO ON RT.COM‘Threat to Christian civilization’: Russian Patriarch warns Ankara against dividing people by turning Hagia Sophia into mosque
The Turkish regime just now turned the symbol and soul of Orthodoxy Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Turkey's extremist muslims don't respect anything. pic.twitter.com/WQKsPfDMID— Nic 🇬🇷 (@NicAthens) July 10, 2020
Even before his decree was issued, the Turkish president’s plan was condemned by leaders of the Russian and Greek Orthodox churches, who warned that it would be seen as an affront to Christians and create a fracture between East and West. Washington has also urged Turkey to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum.
Moscow has also highlighted the cultural significance of the building while acknowledging that the matter was an “internal affair” for Turkey.
Erdogan spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin has said that opening the Hagia Sophia for worship will not prevent local or foreign tourists from visiting the iconic site and that a loss of the structure as a world heritage site “is not in question.”
“Turkey will still preserve the Christian icons there, just like our ancestors preserved all Christian values,” he told the Anadolu Agency on Thursday.