Erdogan Signs Decree Allowing Hagia Sophia to Be Used as a Mosque Again

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Hagia Sophia

Aerial view of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Suggested reading by the Muslim Times: Turkey: Hagia Sophia should not be converted to a Mosque and Nobel Prize for a noble woman

Source: New York Times

By Carlotta Gall

The decree came after a Turkish court revoked the site’s 80-year-old status as a museum and is likely to provoke an international furor.

ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree Friday ordering Hagia Sophia to be opened for Muslim prayers, an action likely to provoke international furor around a World Heritage Site cherished by Christians and Muslims alike for its religious significance, stunning structure and as a symbol of conquest.

The presidential decree came minutes after a Turkish court announced that it had revoked Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, which for the last 80 years had made it a monument of relative harmony and a symbol of the secularism that was part of the foundation of the modern Turkish state.

Built in the sixth century as a cathedral, Hagia Sophia stands as the greatest example of Byzantine Christian architecture in the world. But it has been a source of Christian-Muslim rivalry, having stood at the center of Christendom for nearly a millennium and then, after being conquered, of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, when it was last used as a mosque.

Mr. Erdogan’s decree transferred control of the site to the Religious Affairs Directorate, sealing the removal of its museum status and allowing Hagia Sophia to become a working mosque once again.

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7 replies

  1. The Muslim Times does not endorse this change. But, now that it has happened perhaps the wise thing to do is to swap the mosque status with the Cordoba Grand Mosque in Spain and bring both the countries in compliance with much needed religious tolerance in our global village.

  2. It was born as a church, one of the icons of the Byzantine world, before being converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks and into a museum by their secular-minded successors. But now it would be transformed again. Workers squeezed a bland wooden minbar into a corner of the nave and a mihrab into a nearby portico, drew panels and screens to obscure the dazzling 13th-century Christian frescoes looking down from the vaults and the dome, and unfurled a red carpet over the marble floor. A muezzin summoned the faithful to prayers. The Hagia Sophia was now a mosque.

    That was in 2013, and not in Istanbul, home of the Hagia Sophia known to millions of tourists worldwide, but in Trabzon, another Turkish city once populated by Greeks (and known in English as Trebizond), home to the ancient shrine’s much smaller and younger namesake. There are at least five former Byzantine churches dedicated to the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom” in Greek) across Turkey. Over the past decade, four, including the one in Trabzon, have reopened as mosques.

  3. Since there’s no shortage of mosques in Turkey, why couldn’t they have left is as a museum?

    It’s a historical place and world heritage site and such a place used as a museum has been and would have continued to serve a practical historical place as one.

  4. You are right. This is simply a move by Erdogan to appease his zealot base and hurting the minority and universal voices, like populist leaders like Trump and Modi and others are doing in the rest of the world.

  5. Zia, I am happy with your comment but I want yoy to condemn Erdogan, other wise Israel will do the same with Al Aqsa Mosque—
    It seems to me that all Islamic countries support Erdogan to convert historical church to mosque.

    It is very bad decision of Erdogan. It will be blacklash soon or later.

    Let us condemn and reject Erdogan strongly👎

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