After 86 years, prayers will be offered on July 24 at the historic Aya Sofia Building

Turkish President Erdogan has signed a presidential decree to convert the historic Museum Aya Sofia into a mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and announced the start of prayers on July 24.

According to the International News Agency, Turkish President signed a presidential decree to convert Aya Sofia from a museum to a mosque.

Following the signing of the presidential decree, President Erdogan announced that prayers would begin at the museum on July 24. The museum has been taken over by the Department of Religious Affairs.

After 1934, the call to prayer will resound in the museum and prayers will be offered.

Earlier, Turkey’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the restoration of the mosque, declaring Sofia the property of the Sultan Fatih Muhammad Trust, saying the government’s decision of November 24, 1934, was inconsistent with domestic law. The decision removed the building’s mosque status and turned it into a museum.

It should be noted that this building was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine King Justinian I and for a thousand years it was used as the largest church in the world.

However, after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, It was converted into a mosque and used as a mosque for about 500 years, but was converted into a museum in 1934 during the reign of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Leaders from the United States, Greece, and the Church were at the forefront of opposing the renovation of the sixth-century building and expressed concern.

The Turkish Supreme Court in Ankara ruled that

“the site was designated for a mosque, so it is not legally possible to use it for any other purpose.”

The ruling, citing a decision signed by Ataturk , said

“the removal of the mosque by the cabinet in 1934 and declaring it a museum did not fall under the law.”

The association, which has been fighting a legal battle for Sofia for 16 years, said it was the property of an Ottoman leader who captured the city in 1453 and converted the 900-year-old Byzantine church into a mosque.

He said Ardawan is a true Muslim and had supported the campaign to change the status of the building before the local elections last year.

The Ottoman Caliph built the minarets of the mosque and inscribed the names of the Rightly Guided Caliphs in Arabic with a monument to the ancient Christians inside the building.

UNESCO warns Turkey to build mosque

According to the AFP news agency, the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO has warned Turkey against converting the Byzantine-era Aya Sofia from a museum to a mosque in Istanbul and called for talks before making that decision.

“There are a number of promises and legal complications associated with this initiative.”

“A state must ensure that its extraordinary world heritage is not affected within its borders”

The spokesman said it was important to inform UNESCO and its World Heritage Committee before making any changes.

He asked whether Sofia is within the historic area of Istanbul and has the status of a museum, which Turkey has repeated in letters.

“We urge the Turkish authorities to start negotiations before making any decision on a world-class site.”

Russian Orthodox Church expresses regret

The Russian Orthodox Church said in a statement that it was “regrettable” that the court had not taken into account the concerns raised in the ruling, which could lead to “major disagreements”.

The spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world said that converting the building into a mosque would disappoint Christians and divide them into East and West.

On the other hand, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greece also urged Turkey to maintain the building as a museum.

However, the Turkish Association campaigned hard to restore the Aya Sofia Mosque and change the status of the building, arguing that the Muslim-majority country was the best manifestation of Turkey’s status.

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