Turkey Turns Iconic Museum Hagia Sophia Into Mosque, Sparks Fury In Greece And Christian Community
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared the World Cultural Heritage Hagia Sophia a mosque. He has announced to open it soon for the prayers. Erdogan’s decision has caused considerable outrage in the neighbouring country Greece and the Christian community.
A Turkish court on Friday announced that the decision to make the historic building a museum in 1934 was illegal. While delivering its verdict, the court said that the 'Hagia Sophia' established in the sixth century is registered as a mosque in all the available documents of the land. Within an hour of the decision, people started celebrating outside the 'Hagia Sophia', and fierce religious slogans were raised.
Erdogan's decision is drawing strong criticism from around the world. UNESCO has said that the World Heritage Committee will soon decide whether to put 'Hagia Sophia' on the list of World Cultural Heritage or not. The neighbouring country of Greece has described the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, a provocative step against the civilised world. Greece's culture minister, Lina Mendoni, said in a statement, the nationalism demonstrated by Erdogan takes Turkey back over six centuries.
In addition, the Russian Orthodox Church has also strongly criticised Erdogan's decision. Church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda told a news agency that millions of Christians’ pleas were not heard, which hurts them.
The 'Hagia Sophia', built as a church in 537 AD, has been an issue of tension in history between Christians and Muslims. This cathedral, built by the Roman Empire, was converted into a mosque after the establishment of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. For the past 85 years, 'Hagia Sophia' was a magnificent museum visited by people of all faiths. This decision to build a museum for Turkey's Bapu, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, was the hallmark of a new-age secular and progressive Turkey. However, many people say that this step of Erdogan has been taken in the name of nationalism to make up for his declining popularity.