The Turkish Council of State is likely to rule tomorrow, on Friday, that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a museum in 1934 was illegal, Turkish officials told Reuters.
As a result, that would pave the way for the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, despite concerns expressed at an international level. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed recently to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was built as a church in the 6th century, it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.
“We expect the decision of the Council of State, according to which the 1934 decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a museum will be invalid, to be issued on Friday,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters. Officials from the ruling AKP party also said that the decision “on the abolition of the current status of Hagia Sophia”, was expected to be issued on Friday. Pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that the Council of State had already decided in favour of repealing the status of Hagia Sophia and that it would publish it on Friday. “Our nation has been waiting for this for 86 years. The court lifted the ban on Hagia Sophia,” he said.
It is recalled that the reactions to such a decision are strong and have intensified. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the first to declare that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque would turn millions of Christians against Islam. Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow also announced in a statement that a threat to Hagia Sophia was a threat to the entire Christian civilisation. In a statement, Patriarch Theodore of Jerusalem called on Turkey yesterday to respect the current status of Hagia Sophia.
Moreover, Patriarch Daniel of Romania wrote in a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch that the Romanian Patriarchate supported the preservation of the current status of the Hagia Sophia Basilica in Constantinople. Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all of Greece had made a statement a few days earlier in which he said that the Turks “would not dare” to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, and caused a huge backlash in Turkey.
In addition, from a political point of view, there have been reactions from the US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, who called on Turkey “to continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum.” Finally, both the Russian government and the Russian State Duma have called on the Turkish government to maintain the status of Hagia Sophia, while France has issued a statement calling for the same thing.