Istanbul, June 16, 2020
Photo: architectural-review.com As Turkish officials await the court hearing on the possibility of converting the world-famous Agia Sophia Museum back into a mosque, preparations for the change are reportedly already underway.
In this vein, the leader of the Saadet Partisi Islamist political party, Abdullah Sevim, called for Turkey to immediately take action and paint over the faces of the seraphim in the dome of the 6th-century Orthodox cathedral-turned-mosque-turned-museum, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
“There’s no need to wait for the decision of the State Council. We’ve already purchased the lime,” Sevim wrote on his Twitter page, calling everyone to join in a Muslim prayer to be held at Agia Sophia by President Erdogan.
The State Council will review the possibility of changing the status of Agia Sophia from a mosque to a museum, thus canceling the presidential decree of 1934 that turned it into a museum in the first place, on July 2.
Other preparations towards converting it back into a mosque are reportedly underway already. According to Turkish historian and writer Ahmet Anapali, more than 75,000 sq. ft. worth of carpets used in Islamic prayers have already been purchased, paid for by a private individual, reports Romfea with reference to the Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit Gazetesi.
The carpets are purple, the color of the time of Mehmet the Conqueror. According to Anapali, the information was provided to him by “the most reliable person in the country after Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.”
“It is the desire of all of us to break the chains of Agia Sophia by opening it to Muslim prayer. This was the wish of Sultan Mehmet,” Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül also said yesterday.
While Turkish officials have proclaimed that Agia Sophia is on their territory and they can do with it as they please, UNESCO General Director Audrey Azoulay has made it clear that the international organization is keeping a close eye on developments in Turkey.
Agia Sophia has been included as a UNESCO World Heritage site as a museum since 1985. As Azoulay explains, a change in status to the monument requires UNESCO’s permission.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to insist on preserving Agia Sophia as a multi-religious monument. The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece also earlier called for Turkey to respect the monument and preserve its present status.