Muslims pray in Hagia Sophia: “It will be a mosque”
The Turkish president has so far rejected international criticism about the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The president replies that it is a matter of “sovereign rights” for his country. “Those who do not react against Islamophobia in their countries are attacking Turkey’s willingness to use its sovereign rights,” said Erdogan during a video conference ceremony. “We made this decision not in relation to what others say, but in relation to our rights, as we have done in Syria, Libya and elsewhere.”The Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built 1500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral, but was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. In 1934 it was converted into a museum by order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of modern and secular Turkey.
On Friday, the Council of State, the highest administrative tribunal in Turkey, revoked the 1934 provision. Shortly afterwards Erdogan announced that the former Byzantine basilica of ancient Constantinople would be open to Muslim prayers as a mosque from Friday 24 July.