According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered a change in the status of the Hagia Sophia from a Museum into a Mosque.
The newspaper’s front page, as well as its online version, reported that Erdogan told his party’s Central Committee on Wednesday: “Prayer can be read in the Hagia Sophia, and the verse for conquest in the Quran can also be recited. Our nation must decide on this. Hagia Sophia as a mosque can continue to receive tourists. Like the Blue Mosque. Special sensitivity is required in this matter. Do some research on Hagia Sophia, look at it and we’ll talk.”
According to Hurriyet, Erdogan proposes that the Hagia Sophia be officially designated a mosque, but at the same time retain the status of a museum, so that it can be visited by tourists, such as the Blue Mosque opposite Hagia Sophia, which turned into a museum in 1934.
The status of the Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has become a contentious issue between Greece and Turkey, as Erdogan’s regime has often alluded to returning the historic Church into a Mosque.
Hagia Sophia (God’s Wisdom) was for centuries the largest Christian Church in the world before Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.