(TURKEY) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday formally re-converted Istanbul’s sixth-century iconic Hagia Sophia right into a mosque, hours after a excessive court docket annulled a 1934 resolution that had turned it right into a museum.
Erdogan signed a decree handing over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Non secular Affairs Presidency and declaring it open to Muslim worship.
Turkey’s highest administrative court docket on Friday issued a ruling that paves the way in which for the federal government to transform Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia — a former cathedral-turned-mosque that now serves as a museum — again right into a Muslim home of worship.
The Council of State threw its weight behind a petition introduced by a spiritual group and annulled a 1934 cupboard resolution that turned the Sixth-century constructing right into a museum.
Dozens of people that awaited the court docket’s ruling exterior the Hagia Sophia jubilantly chanted “Allah is nice!” when the information got here out. Orthodox Christians expressed deep dismay.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that the the vastly symbolic world heritage website must be turned again right into a mosque regardless of widespread worldwide criticism, together with from the USA and Orthodox Christian leaders. The transfer may additionally deepen tensions with neighboring Greece.
Cypriot International Minister Nikos Christodoulides, a Greek Cypriot, posted on his official Twitter account that Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract home opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its worldwide obligations.”
Christodoulides mentioned Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its worldwide obligations is manifested in its resolution to change the designation of Hagia Sophia, a world heritage website that may be a common image of the Orthodox religion.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was scheduled to ship an deal with to the nation afterward Friday.
Nationalist and conservative teams have lengthy been craving to carry prayers at Hagia Sophia, which they regard as a part of the Muslim Ottoman legacy. Others imagine the UNESCO World Heritage website ought to stay a museum, as a logo of Christian and Muslim solidarity.
The group that introduced the case to court docket had contested the legality of the 1934 resolution by the trendy Turkish republic’s secular authorities ministers and argued that the constructing was the private property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453.
The court docket dominated that Hagia Sophia was the property of a basis managing the Sultan’s belongings and was opened as much as the general public as a mosque.
The Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, thought of the non secular chief of the world’s Orthodox Christians, warned in late June that the constructing’s conversion right into a mosque “will flip thousands and thousands of Christians the world over in opposition to Islam.”
Patriarch Kirill, the chief of the Russian Orthodox Church, known as for “prudence” and the preservation of the “present impartial standing” for the Hagia Sophia, which he mentioned was certainly one of Christianity’s “devoutly honored symbols.” In an announcement this week, he mentioned: “Russia is a rustic with nearly all of the inhabitants professing Orthodoxy, and so, what might occur to Hagia Sophia will inflict nice ache on the Russian folks.”
U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo mentioned final month that the landmark ought to stay a museum to function bridge between faiths and cultures. His feedback sparked a rebuke from Turkey’s International Ministry, which mentioned Hagia Sophia was a home concern of Turkish nationwide sovereignty.
Erdogan, a religious Muslim, has incessantly used the Hagia Sophia concern, which sits on the coronary heart of Turkey’s religious-secular divide, to drum up help for his Islamic-rooted get together. He has pledged to revert the construction’s standing to a mosque a number of instances however mentioned his authorities would await the court docket’s resolution earlier than taking steps.
Some Islamic prayers have been held within the museum lately and in a serious symbolic transfer, Erdogan recited the opening verse of the Quran within the Hagia Sophia in 2018.
Constructed below Byzantine Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia was the primary seat of the Jap Orthodox church for hundreds of years, the place emperors had been topped amidst ornate marble and mosaic decorations.
4 minarets had been added to the terracotta-hued construction with cascading domes and the constructing was changed into an imperial mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople — town that’s now Istanbul.
The constructing opened its doorways as a museum in 1935, a 12 months after the Council of Ministers’ resolution.
Mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary and Christian saints that had been plastered over consistent with Islamic guidelines had been uncovered by means of arduous restoration work for the museum. Hagia Sophia was the most well-liked museum in Turkey final 12 months, drawing greater than 3.7 million guests.
Information studies have mentioned the conversion may happen in time for prayers on July 15, when Turkey marks the quashing of a coup try in 2016.
A ballot performed in June by Istanbul Financial system Analysis confirmed 46.9 % of respondents favored Hagia Sophia being opened to Muslim worship whereas 38.eight % mentioned it ought to stay a museum. 13 % mentioned it must be open to worship for all religions.
Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul and Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus, contributed.