- Title: Turkey's Erdogan signs decree converting Hagia Sophia into mosque
- Date: 10th July 2020
- Summary: ISTANBUL, TURKEY (JULY 10, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CELEBRATING IN FRONT OF HAGIA SOPHIA (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) RETIRED WORKER, MUSTAFA GOK, SAYING: "I feel the excitement that was felt when Hagia Sophia was first opened (for Muslim prayers) in 1453. This is the re-fall of fusty Byzantine empire. This is the awakening of the mosque that was opened by Sultan Fatih Mehmet, the rise of Muslims and Islam once again." GIRLS WITH TURKISH FLAG ON THEIR BACK IN FRONT OF HAGIA SOPHIA ANKARA, TURKEY (JULY 10, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF COUNCIL OF STATE LAWYER SELAMI KARAMAN ADDRESSING JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) LAWYER, SELAMI KARAMAN, SAYING: "The verdict was conveyed to us by State of Council's 10th chamber as of today. With this verdict, decision taken on November 24, 1934 to convert Hagia Sophia mosque to a museum was annulled."
- Embargoed: 24th July 2020 15:51
- Keywords: Hagia Sophia Turkey Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan mosque
- Location: ISTANBUL, ANKARA, TURKEY
- City: ISTANBUL, ANKARA, TURKEY
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Religion/Belief,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001CM87CQV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul's Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship on Friday (July 10) after a top court ruled that the building's conversion to a museum by modern Turkey's founding statesman was illegal.
Erdogan made his announcement, just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, despite international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
"The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque...to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship," the decision signed by Erdogan said.
Erdogan had earlier proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a focal point of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.
The United States, Greece and church leaders were among those to express concern about changing the status of the huge 6th Century building, converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
"It was concluded that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally," the Council of State, Turkey's top administrative court in Ankara, said in its ruling.
"The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws," it said, referring to an edict signed by Ataturk.
(Production: Mehmet Emin Caliskan, Omer Berberoglu)
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