State Dept: 'Disappointment' at Hagia Sophia Reverting to Mosque


The Council of State, Turkey's most noteworthy regulatory court, consistently dropped a 1934 bureau choice and said Hagia Sophia was enlisted as a mosque in its property deeds.

"Hagia Sophia is not merely a historical and cultural monument".

It said that any modification requires prior notification to UNESCO and possibly examination by its World Heritage Committee, which adds - and sometimes removes - sites from the coveted list of UNESCO World Heritage. The decision said the site is listed as a mosque in its title deed and that can not be changed, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

"Greece condemns in the most intense manner the decision of Turkey to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque".

The UNESCO has said it "deeply regrets" the decision to turn the museum into a mosque and called on the Turkish authorities to "open a dialogue without delay", the BBC reported. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was understood to be a "mosque", a status that can't be legally changed.

Friday's ruling settled a case brought by a religious group that has campaigned for years for the Hagia Sophia to be reconverted into a mosque.

It was converted into a mosque in 1453, when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, with minarets placed around its perimeter, its mosaics covered in whitewash.

Immediately after the ruling, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shared a copy of a decree on Twitter and signed a decree opening the Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

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Mr Biden called on Mr Erdogan to reverse it "and instead keep this treasured place in its current status as a museum, ensuring equal access for all". He has long floated restoring the mosque status of the sixth-century building, which was converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The decision Friday by Turkey's top administrative court reversed Hagia Sophia's designation as a museum and restored it as a mosque.

UNESCO, which has struggled to find its footing after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew the United States from the organisation in 2019, has, not surprisingly, been relatively muted concerning Hagia Sophia.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of 300 million Orthodox Christians, said altering the status of the building would fracture the eastern and western worlds.

For Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, "the nationalism displayed by Erdogan. takes his country back six centuries".

Murra said that the decision falls under Turkey's sovereignty rights.

"This extraordinary site is a testament to religious expression and to artistic and technical genius, reflected in its rich and complex 1,500-year history", said US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as he advised Turkey to preserve Hagia Sophia on Wednesday.

A few hundred Turks carrying Turkish flags gathered outside Hagia Sophia shouting "Chains broken, Hagia Sophia reopened".