Ankara, July 10, 2020
Turkey’s highest administrative court issued a ruling today that paves the way for the icon Agia Sophia to be converted into a mosque once again, reports the Associated Press.
The AP reports:
The Council of State threw its weight behind a petition brought by a religious group and annulled a 1934 cabinet decision that changed the 6th century building into a museum. The ruling allows the government to restore the Hagia Sophia’s previous status as a mosque.
The decision was in line with the Turkish president’s calls to turn the hugely symbolic world heritage site into a mosque despite widespread international criticism, including from the United States and Orthodox Christian leaders.
The petitioning religious group argued that the building was the personal property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453, and thus President Kemal Ataturk had no legal right to convert Agia Sophia into a museum in 1934.
On July 2, the Council of State had ruled that President Erdoğan could change the status of Agia Sophia simply by presidential decree.