Turkey’s highest court docket has dominated that the traditional Hagia Sophia, a Unesco web site and massively fashionable museum, could be turned again right into a mosque, in a transfer that has angered Western allies.
First constructed as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia was transformed right into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire on the top of its energy after which lastly grew to become a museum in 1935.
Nonetheless, Turkish judges dominated that the secularisation of the museum that was ordered by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founding father, was “null and void” – which paves the best way for it to be restored to its Islamic previous.
The ruling is a significant coup for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, who has repeatedly vowed to show the Hagia Sophia again right into a mosque to win help from hardline conservative voters.
“It was concluded that the settlement deed allotted it as a mosque and its use outdoors this character just isn’t potential legally,” the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court docket, mentioned in its ruling.
“The cupboard resolution in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and outlined it as a museum didn’t adjust to legal guidelines,” it added.
Mr Erdogan has reportedly signed a letter that has formally declared the construction is now a mosque and will probably be reopened for public prayers, although he’s beneath intense stress from Greece, Russia, america and Unesco to desert the plan.
Critics of Mr Erdogan’s plan additionally level out that components of the Hagia Sophia are already made accessible for Muslim prayers, whereas the lack of museum income may severely have an effect on the Turkish financial system, which depends closely on tourism.
The Hagia Sophia is taken into account one of many crowning achievements of the Byzantine period, however by means of Turkey’s turbulent historical past its possession has moved between Christianity and Islam.
The cathedral briefly grew to become a Crusader church following its building by Orthodox Christians however in 1453 was transformed by the Ottoman Empire right into a mosque.
The Ottomans added minarets alongside the domed construction, whereas inside they added calligraphic panels bearing the Arabic names of the early Muslim caliphs alongside the monument’s historical Christian iconography
5 hundred years later, Ataturk made the extremely symbolic gesture of secularising a constructing claimed by each Christianity and Islam, because the nation sought to recast itself as a pro-Western, secular energy.
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