Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked his aides to conduct a comprehensive study on how to convert Istanbul’s famous Hagia Sophia landmark, currently a museum, into a mosque, the local sources reported.
During a top party meeting earlier this week, Erdogan noted that Hagia Sophia was reopened as a museum in 1935 after a cabinet decision, and said that it should be up to the nation itself to reverse that decision. The report published by Hurriyet daily said that Erdogan wants to maintain Hagia Sophia as a tourist attraction like the neighboring Blue Mosque, but open it for Islamic prayers.
One senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official disputed the report and said that Erdogan had not ordered the study.
“We were discussing a similar court case before the Council of State that has opened the way for Islamic prayers in Chora Church,” the official said. “There were only expressions of wishes.”
Hagia Sophia, a Unesco world heritage site, was originally built as a Greek Orthodox church. It was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmet the Conquerer in 1453, celebrated on 29 May every year.