3 August 2020

Hagia Sophia is Turkey's internal matter: Erdogan

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Turkey's president on Sunday underlined that the Hagia Sophia's status is an internal matter, urging other countries to respect the final decision of the country. reports citing Turkish media.

"The final decision-maker on the status of the Hagia Sophia is the Turkish nation, not others. This is our internal affair," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Istanbul-based journal Kriter.

Erdogan stressed that other countries should respect Turkey's decision, adding that the conversion of the iconic landmark from a mosque to a museum in 1934 was "a painful decision for our nation."

He dismissed domestic and foreign criticism on the decision, saying they had "no value" in the courts.

On Friday, a top Turkish court annulled a 1934 cabinet decree, which had turned Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into a museum.

This verdict by the country's Council of State paved the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.

It ruled that the architectural gem had been owned by a foundation established by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque -- a status that cannot be legally changed.

The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It was turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. In 1935, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum.

President Erdogan said the historical complex will be ready for worship by Friday prayers on July 24.

2020.07.13 / 11:14
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