The world-famous Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul has been converted into a mosque. The site was originally founded as a cathedral.
First Azaan-call to prayer-was recited at the newly-converted mosque soon after the announcement and was broadcast on all news channels in Turkey.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the decision as court annulled Hagia Sophia’s museum status.
According to the international news agency, the site was originally created as an Orthodox Christian cathedral 1,500 years ago. It was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453.
President Erdogan defended his decision. He said that the country has exercised its right to turn the site back into a mosque.
He said in a press conference that the first Muslim prayers would be performed on 24th July.
“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added.
“I invite everyone to respect decisions taken by judicial and executive bodies of my country on Hagia Sophia,”
Mr. Erdogan also said that Turkey welcomes all views on the issue. But he also said that any attitude or expression beyond that would be considered a “violation” of Turkey’s “independence”.
“I underline that we will open Hagia Sophia as a mosque by preserving the common cultural heritage of humanity,”
On the other hand, The Russian Orthodox Church expressed dsappointment at Turkey’s decision.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said in a statement, “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,”
“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,”