Changing the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a step towards greater Turkey, while the opinion of other countries does not matter, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Earlier it was reported that the state Council of Turkey – the country’s highest administrative court-on July 10, annulled the decision of 1934 to turn the Hagia Sophia into a Museum. Immediately after that, Erdogan announced that he had signed a decree to turn the Cathedral into a mosque and start Muslim services there.
“We decided to change the status of Hagia Sofia based on the opinion of our people, not on who will say what about us,” Erdogan said on NTV, adding that the country will continue to “go the right way – to build a great and strong Turkey.”
Hagia Sophia was founded by the Christian Emperor Justinian and was opened on December 27, 537. The Cathedral was the largest Church in the Christian world for more than a thousand years. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Cathedral was converted into a mosque. Still, since 1934, the building became a Museum by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk and was included in the UNESCO world heritage list.
The decision to make a mosque out of Hagia Sophia caused a sharp reaction in many countries of the world.