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Erdogan reopens Hagia Sophia for Muslim worship, angering Christian leaders

Issued on: 10/07/2020 – 16:19

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday that the Hagia Sophia, one of the architectural wonders of the world, would be reopened for Muslim worship, sparking fury among Christian leaders and in neighbouring Greece.

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His declaration came after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Byzantine monument's status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.

The UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul, a magnet for tourists worldwide, was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

The Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, unanimously cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision and said Hagia Sophia was registered as a mosque in its property deeds, in its detailed reasoning seen by AFP.

Greece branded Turkeys move an “open provocation to the civilised world”.

🇹🇷 #Turkeys top court has ruled that #Istanbuls 6th-century Hagia Sophias conversion from a mosque to a museum in the 1930s was “unlawful”, paving the way to its reconversion into a house of worship.

The architectural jewel has long been cause for political debate ⤵ pic.twitter.com/6aN4heaosd

— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) July 10, 2020

“The nationalism displayed by Erdogan… takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

The Russian Orthodox Church said Turkey had ignored “millions of Christians” with its move.

Hagia Sophia has been a museum since 1935 and open to believers of all faiths.

Transforming it from a mosque was a key reform under the new republic born out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

Let the chains break

The landmark ruling will inflame tensions not just with the West and its historic foe Greece but also Russia, with which Erdogan has forged an increasingly close partnership in recent years.

The United States has also urged against altering its status.

The UNs cultural agRead More – Source