Foreign Affairs
Iconic museum in Turkey turned into mosque

In Turkey, the Hagia Sophia iconic museum in Istanbul, originally built as a cathedral, has been declared again as a mosque.

The controversial decision was taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Turkish Court annulled the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum.

Hagia Sophia was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox cathedral and was turned into a mosque during the reign of the Ottomans in Istanbul in 1453.

It was turned into a museum in 1934 and considered as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Turkish Islamists had for years requested that the museum is turned into a mosque, however secular opposition members always resisted the request, which was also criticised by religious and political leaders world-wide.

President Erdogan said that Turkey exercised its sovereign right and indicated that the first Moslem prayers will be held in the building on the 24th July. He added that, similar to other mosques in the country, the Hagia Sophia doors will be open to Turks and foreigners, both Moslem and others.

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