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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