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Turkey restores iconic Hagia Sophia into mosque after 86 years

Turkey restores iconic Hagia Sophia into mosque after 86 years

The world-famous Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul has been turned back into a mosque

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed an order to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque after the country’s top court ruled that the 1934 decision to convert into a museum was illegal.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Istanbul, a major tourist attraction, 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.

“The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” the decision read. The conversion of the mosque into a museum was done during the era of Mustafa Kamal Ata Turk, who forcibly converted the country into a secular state.

“The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque. ..to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship,” the decision signed by Erdogan said.

First prayers in Hagia Sophia on July 24 after 86 years

President Erdogan handed over the control to the religious affairs directorate and reportedly prayers will resume in the mosque from July 24th.

God willing, we will perform Friday prayers all together on July 24 and reopen Hagia Sophia to worship,” Erdogan said in an address to the nation.

Hagia Sophia to remain open for all

“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

Key takeaways

International reaction

Intentionally, there has been opposition to the decision. The Church, United States and Greece have all opposed the decision. Russian Orthodox Church was a party to the case and regretted that the court did not consider its stance on the matter. The Turkish groups suggest that the country has an overwhelming Muslim majority and the change of Hagia Sophia from a museum to mosque will reflect upon that.

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