Author Topic: Hagia Sophia: Turkish court ruling paves way to turn museum back into mosque  (Read 64 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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Hagia Sophia: Turkish court ruling paves way to turn museum back into mosque

The Hagia Sophia would be reopened to worshipers after a gap of over 80 years, Turkey’s President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Erdogan called on citizens to avoid visiting the historic site for prayers before the building reopens as a mosque on July 24.  He also called upon "observers" to respect the official decision.

In an emotionally charged speech, Erdogan said that it would take up to six months to finish preparations to make Hagia Sophia more "compatible" with Islamic prayers.

The strongman leader added that the former museum would still be available for visitors of all faiths, without disclosing further details. Some local media outlets had recently suggested drawing a curtain to hide the Christian symbols at the site.

The Hagia Sophia is an Eastern Orthodox church that became a mosque.

UNESCO reconsidering status

The UNESCO organization, which designates World Heritage Sites, said it would be reviewing the building’s status in light of the decision. UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay wrote in a statement that UNESCO "deeply regrets the decision of the Turkish authorities, taken without prior dialogue, to modify the status of the Hagia Sophia."

The organization urged Turkey "to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage."

The Hagia Sophia was designated a World Heritage Site in 1985.

It is a World Heritage site.

Orthodox Church, Greece, Cyprus aghast

The Russian Orthodox Church was not pleased with the decision. A church spokesman said "the concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,"” and "today's court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored," in statements run by Russian news agency Interfax.

Cyprus' minister of foreign affairs, Nikos Christodoulides, said he "strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagio Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations."

Greece's Culture Minister Lina Mendoni decried the Hagia Sophia's new status in a written statement: "Today’s decision, which came as a result of the political will of President Erdogan, is an open provocation to the civilized world which recognizes the unique value and ecumenical nature of the monument."

The Orthodox Church is outraged.
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Offline thundley4

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Time for it to be a target.