CHURCH TO MOSQUE TO MUSEUM TO MOSQUE: Hagia Sophia a mosque – first Muslim prayers in 2 weeks [#HagiaSophia #TayyipErdogan] 07/12
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stunned the world Friday when he declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia a mosque, saying that the first Muslim prayers there will be held in 2 weeks.
The announcement followed a court ruling that decreed the ancient building’s conversion into a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.
The colossal Hagia Sophia was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral and was converted into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1453.
The secular Turkish government decided in 1934 to make it a museum, and millions of tourists now visit the landmark annually.
Tayyip Erdogan made his announcement, just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, despite international warnings not to change the status of the colossal landmark.
The Turkish leader has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics in his 17 years at the helm.
Tayyip Erdogan has long floated restoring the mosque status of the 6th-century building, which was converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“With this court ruling, and with the measures we took in line with the decision, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after 86 years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be.”
– Tayyip Erdogan in a national address
In a telling of history at times critical of the Byzantine Empire and the modern republic’s founders, according to Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey could now leave behind “the curse of Allah, profits and angels” that Fatih – the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II – said would be on anyone who converted it from a mosque.
“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be open to all, locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” according to Tayyip Erdogan, who earlier on Friday signed off on the Religious Affairs Directorate managing the site.
UNESCO, Christian leaders vexed as Erdogan declares Hagia Sophia a mosque:
Defying the international community, Turkish president changes status of the legendary 6th-century site, which has been a symbol of ecumenical relations for centuries. “Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be open to all, locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he pledges. Scholars express concern about the fate of unique medieval mosaics inside the colossal landmark.
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