Why does President Erdogan plan to convert Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque?
All you need to know about the Museum's historical significance.
The Hagia Sophia cathedral was built in the Eastern Roman Empire in 537 AD. After the Ottoman Conquest, in 1453, the patriarchal temple in Istanbul, Turkey, became an Ottoman Imperial Mosque. In 1953, it was converted to Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Müzesi).
Since 1953, the Hagia Sophia Museum has attracted over 3 million visitors annually and became one of Turkey’s most visited landmarks. The museum label stuck to the monument, until now, when the Government of Turkey decided to turn the ancient Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
According to the news network RT, the decision to change Hagia Sophia’s status is on hold for now. Turkey’s central administrative bodies are expected to come to a verdict in the next 15 days.
Following this, many authorities opposed the Turkish Government’s decision to change the building’s status.
It’s illegal to change a cultural heritage monument status without permission, given that it’s been a Christian and Muslim place of worship over the years.
The decision garnered mixed reactions from the public. A few looked forward to Hagia Sophia’s inauguration as a mosque, but most were of the view that this decision is unnecessary and illogical.
Some people believed that Hagia Sophia is not an issue between the Greek Government and the Turkish Government because Hagia Sophia belongs to humanity. They think that the memorial should remain a world heritage. Many argued that, as a museum, Hagia Sophia extends significant financial support to Turkey, so there was no point in the conversion.
Several renowned figures extended their views on the matter too.
The Culture Minister of Greece, Lina Mendoni, said:
The Hagia Sophia must not be allowed to be divested of its universal character and turned into a Muslim place of worship. The Turkish Government and the President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan are attempting to revive and reignite fanatical nationalist and religious sentiment.
The French Foreign Ministry said:
A symbol of tolerance and diversity, this place must remain open to all.
Many speculated that the action could turn millions of Christians against Islam. Other states showed their concern regarding the matter too.
The United States holds the opinion that changing the status of the Hagia Sophia would diminish the legacy of this remarkable building, and its unprecedented ability to serve humanity as a bridge between people of different faiths, traditions, and cultures.
RT News Network reported that the Turkish leadership is not happy with being told what to do. The Government insists that it has the right to make decisions about its buildings.
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