“Is Sofia’s Decision Based on ‘Power and Politics’?”

Muslim clerics have claimed that the decision to turn Turkey’s historic assets into a mosque was made on the basis of “power and politics”.

According to Arab News, Italy’s Imam Milan Yahya Palauccini said that the 1,500-year-old asset, which has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should have been left as a church.

In 1934, according to an official order, Aya Sofia was turned into a museum, but recently a Turkish court overturned the official decision and restored Aya Sofia back as a mosque.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also welcomed the court ruling, announcing that Aya Sofia would be opened for Friday prayers on July 24.

The Italian imam says that Sofia should be neither a museum nor a mosque, but only a church.

Imam Milan Yahya Palauchini is also the president of Italy’s Muslim religious community.

He asked whether his position on Sofia was in accordance with historical facts and references to the Qur’an.

Imam Milan said that when the second caliph, Hazrat Omar, set foot in Jerusalem, he was offered to offer prayers in the church, but he refused to accept the offer in honor of the followers of Christianity. Imam Milan said that even today one should adopt the same attitude as Hazrat Omar.

“Places of worship should be used for the purpose for which they were originally built,” he said. Istanbul also has many beautiful mosques where Muslims can pray, so there was no need for another mosque.

Imam Milan said he thought the decision on Sofia was based on power and politics.

He said he understood the sentiments of Pope Francis, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Christian community, and that his position on preserving places of worship of all religions was correct.

The Catholic Church in Italy has also criticized President Erdogan’s decision. The pastor of the Catholic Church in Italy, Eto’o Malanti, told Arab News that Sofia had been a Christian church for more than a thousand years, built by Christian King Justin for the worship of the Christian community.

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