Turkey: deputy PM hopes to convert Hagia Sophia to mosque

18 November, 12:43

    (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, NOVEMBER 18 - Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has expressed his hope to see Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Museum be used as a mosque, while already calling it the "Hagia Sophia Mosque" while speaking to reporters. "We currently stand next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque... we are looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we will see it smiling again soon," Dogan News Agency quoted Arinc as saying in a speech during the opening ceremony of a new Carpet Museum, located adjacent to the ancient Hagia Sophia complex. He cited two other complexes with the same name in Turkey that have recently been converted into mosques.

    The status of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a number of campaigns to open it for Muslim prayers being initiated, despite suggestions that this would be disrespectful to the building's past as a church. The Hagia Sophia Museum was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360. Until 1453 it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. Following the city's conquest by the Ottoman Empire, the building was turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum.(ANSAmed).

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