Turkey's Supreme Court Allows Saint Sophia To Be Turned Into A Mosque
The Turkish Supreme court has ruled that the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul can be changed by presidential decree, the Greek newspaper Orthodox Times reported on Thursday.
According to the judges, the decree of the first President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk from 1934 on giving the Cathedral the status of a Museum was and remains legal, but the current head of state Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the right to decide whether to change or maintain this status.
Also, on Thursday, the issue of the future of the Cathedral was considered by the Turkish state Council. The hearing on this issue took just 17 minutes, CNN notes. The official decision of the State Council will be published within 15 days.
In turn, Turkish media suggest that the first Muslim service in Sofia may be held as early as July 15, the next anniversary of the failed coup attempt in 2016.
The debate over the future of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul unfolded once again after the Koran was read in this Church on May 29, the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople. A week later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed to study the possibility of turning Sofia into a mosque. Later, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul spoke in favor of the Cathedral, becoming a mosque again, as did Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
In turn, the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Sahak II suggested that the Hagia Sophia become a place of prayer for both Christians and Muslims. Representatives of Orthodox churches and high-ranking diplomats, including US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, have spoken out against turning Sofia into a mosque.
Since 1985, the Cathedral has been included in the UNESCO world heritage list.