Museum or mosque? Turkey debates future of iconic Hagia Sophia

blue mosque and hagia sophia

Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.   The Muslim Times has the best collection for interfaith tolerance

Source: Los Angeles Time

JULY 2, 2020

ISTANBUL, Turkey — In its more than 1,400-year existence, the majestic domed structure of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has served as the Byzantine Empire’s main cathedral, a mosque under the Ottoman Empire and a museum in modern Turkey, attracting millions of tourists each year.

The 6th century building is now at the center of a heated debate between nationalist, conservative and religious groups who are pressing for it to be reconverted back into a mosque and those who believe the UNESCO World Heritage site should remain a museum, underscoring Istanbul’s status as a bridge between continents and cultures.

On Thursday, Turkey’s Council of State began considering a request by a group that wants Hagia Sophia to revert to being a mosque and that argues the historic structure was the personal property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Istanbul. A state attorney urged the council, which is Turkey’s highest administrative court, to reject that request, state-run media reported.

A decision is expected within two weeks.

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