Hagia Sophia to open for worship on July 24, says Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the government will open Istanbul's Hagia Sophia for worship on July 24. Erdoğan made the comments soon after he handed over the iconic structure's control to the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the first prayers will be held in Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia on July 24.Erdoğan signs decree opening Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to worship as mosque
"Doors of Hagia Sophia will be fully open for everyone, including Turks and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims," he said in a televised address on July 10.
Erdoğan said Turkey had exercised its sovereign right in converting the sixth-century structure to a mosque and would interpret criticism of the move as an attack on its independence.
Erdoğan's statements came after he handed over the iconic structure's control to the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.
On July 10, Turkey's Council of State - the highest administrative court in the country - paved the way for Hagia Sophia's conversion back into mosque despite international warnings against such a move.
"With this court ruling, and with the measures we took in line with the decision, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after 86 years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be," Erdoğan said.Turkish gov't faces backlash in international arena for converting Hagia Sophia into mosque
In a telling of history at times critical of the Byzantine Empire and the modern republic's founders, Erdoğan said Turkey could now leave behind "the curse of Allah, profits and angels" that Fatih - the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II - said would be on anyone who converted it from a mosque.
Erdoğan has long floated restoring the mosque status of the sixth-century building, which was converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The association which brought the court case, the latest in a 16-year legal battle, said Hagia Sophia was the property of Sultan Mehmet II who captured the city in 1453 and turned the already 900-year-old Greek Orthodox cathedral into a mosque.
The Ottomans built minarets alongside the vast domed structure, while inside they added panels bearing the Arabic names of God, the Prophet Mohammad, and Muslim caliphs. The golden mosaics and Christian icons, obscured by the Ottomans, were uncovered again when Hagia Sophia became a museum.44 pct of Turks believe conversion of Hagia Sophia an attempt to divert attention from economic crisis