Hagia Sophia, a museum known for its religious roots in Christianity in Istanbul, Turkey, will become a mosque. Many political and religious leaders have expressed outrage over the controversial decision.
According to the Christian Post, the Hagia Sophia was erected as a Greek Orthodox Church in A.D. 537. The cathedral would go on to bear tremendous religious and historical significance as it was considered to be the seat of Eastern Christianity for 900 years until its subsequent transformation into an Ottoman mosque in the 15th century after Istanbul was captured by Sultan Mehmed II, the Conqueror.
Then in 1934, all worship at Hagia Sophia was banned as it was turned into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
BBC News reported that the decision to turn the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque was made after a court ruling that took away it’s museum status.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the decision at a press conference last week, stating the country utilized its sovereign right.
“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he added.
Erdogan also noted that starting July 24, Muslims will be allowed to begin praying inside the building.
Despite its transition to a Mosque, Turkish officials asserted that Christian symbols will not be removed.
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