Jean-Pierre Lescourret | Lonely Planet Photos | Getty Photos
President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship on Friday after a prime court docket dominated that the constructing’s conversion to a museum by trendy Turkey’s founding statesman was unlawful.
Erdogan made his announcement, simply an hour after the court docket ruling was revealed, regardless of worldwide warnings to not change the standing of the practically 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
“The choice was taken handy over the administration of the Ayasofya Mosque…to the Non secular Affairs Directorate and open it for worship,” the choice signed by Erdogan mentioned.
Erdogan had earlier proposed restoring the mosque standing of the UNESCO World Heritage Web site, a focus of each the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now probably the most visited monuments in Turkey.
The US, Greece and church leaders have been amongst these to specific concern about altering the standing of the large sixth Century constructing, transformed right into a museum within the early days of the trendy secular Turkish state beneath Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“It was concluded that the settlement deed allotted it as a mosque and its use exterior this character isn’t doable legally,” the Council of State, Turkey’s prime administrative court docket in Ankara, mentioned in its ruling.
“The cupboard resolution in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and outlined it as a museum didn’t adjust to legal guidelines,” it mentioned, referring to an edict signed by Ataturk.
Russian Orthodox Church expresses remorse
The affiliation which introduced the court docket case, the most recent in a 16-year authorized battle, mentioned Hagia Sophia was the property of the Ottoman chief who captured the town in 1453 and turned the already 900-year-old Byzantine church right into a mosque.
Erdogan, a pious Muslim, threw his weight behind the marketing campaign to transform the constructing earlier than native elections final 12 months. He is because of converse shortly earlier than 9 p.m. (1800 GMT), his head of communications mentioned.
The Ottomans constructed minarets alongside the huge domed construction, whereas inside they added large calligraphic panels bearing the Arabic names of the early Muslim caliphs alongside the monument’s historical Christian iconography.
The Russian Orthodox Church mentioned it regretted that the court docket didn’t take its issues under consideration when making its ruling and mentioned the choice might result in even higher divisions, the TASS information company reported.
Beforehand, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the non secular head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based mostly in Istanbul, mentioned changing it right into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greece had additionally urged Turkey to take care of the constructing as a museum.
However Turkish teams have lengthy campaigned for Hagia Sophia’s conversion right into a mosque, saying this might higher replicate Turkey’s standing as an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.