“Hagia Sophia is a monument of world heritage,” said a spokesman for the Greek government, Stelios Petsas in a statement, as reported by Reuters on Thursday (07/02/2020).
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“Many countries, culminating in the interference of the United States (US) Foreign Ministry, highlighted this, urging Turkey not to take steps that would create a huge emotional gap between Christians in the world and Turkey,” he continued.
Previously, a similar call was made by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Pompeo praised the Turkish government for defending the building as a museum but said the change in status could erode his legacy.
Hagia Sophia itself is a former Byzantine cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited tourist monuments in Turkey. Hagia Sophia became a center for Byzantine Christians and Muslims in the Ottoman empire.
Hagia Sophia was completed in 537 with futuristic construction techniques in the Constantinople era and became the main cathedral in Christendom and the largest in the world. The building existed 900 years before it was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
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The building was converted into a museum in 1934 in the era of the founder of the modern Turkish republic Kemal Ataturk. But a lawsuit in court can change the status of the museum into a mosque.