Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum into mosque

Istanbul, July 11

The world-famous Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul — initially based as a cathedral — has been turned again right into a mosque.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan introduced the choice after a court docket annulled the positioning’s museum standing, the BBC reported on Friday.

Built 1,500 years in the past as an Orthodox Christian cathedral, Hagia Sophia was transformed right into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453.

In 1934 it grew to become a museum and is now a UNESCO World Heritage web site.

Islamists in Turkey lengthy known as for it to be transformed to a mosque however secular opposition members opposed the transfer. The proposal prompted criticism from spiritual and political leaders worldwide.

Defending the choice, Erdogan careworn that the nation had exercised its sovereign proper in changing it again to a mosque.

He advised a press convention the primary Muslim prayers could be held contained in the constructing on 24 July.

“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added.

Shortly after the announcement, the primary name to prayer was recited at Hagia Sophia and was broadcast on all of Turkey’s predominant information channels. The cultural web site’s social media channels have now been taken down.

UNESCO has mentioned it “deeply regrets” the choice to show the museum right into a mosque and known as on the Turkish authorities to “open a dialogue without delay”. The organisation had urged Turkey to not change its standing with out dialogue.

The head of the Eastern Orthodox Church has condemned the transfer, as has Greece — house to many hundreds of thousands of Orthodox followers.

Culture Minister Lina Mendoni mentioned it was an “open provocation to the civilised world”.

“The nationalism displayed by President Erdogan… takes his country back six centuries,” she mentioned in an announcement.

The court docket ruling “absolutely confirms that there is no independent justice” in Turkey, she added.

But the Council of State, Turkey’s prime administrative court docket, mentioned in its ruling on Friday: “It was concluded that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally. The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” it mentioned.

The Church in Russia, house to the world’s largest Orthodox Christian group, instantly expressed remorse that the Turkish court docket had not taken its considerations into consideration when ruling on Hagia Sophia.

It mentioned the choice might result in even higher divisions.

While the transfer is standard with conservative spiritual supporters of President Erdogan, Turkey’s most well-known writer, Orhan Pamuk mentioned the choice would take away the “pride” some Turks had in being a secular Muslim nation.

“There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard,” he advised the BBC. IANS

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