The Supreme Administrative Court in Turkey deals on Thursday with the question whether the famous landmark of Istanbul – the Hagia Sophia – can be converted back into a mosque. The largest church in Christendom for almost 1,000 years is now a museum. Supporters of the Islamic-conservative governing party AKP have long called for Hagia Sophia to be opened for prayer.
Greece in particular is against the change of status because of the importance of Hagia Sophia for Christian Orthodoxy. The decision could further exacerbate tensions between neighboring countries that are already fighting over natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean. The status of the building is therefore a political issue.
Hagia Sophia (Greek: Holy Wisdom), built in the 6th century AD, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 as part of Istanbul’s old town. For almost a millennium it was the largest church in Christendom and the main church of the Byzantine Empire, where the emperors were crowned. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque and added four minarets as an external feature. At the instigation of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, the Council of Ministers ordered the conversion into a museum in 1934.
The Supreme Administrative Court is now dealing with this decision of the Council of Ministers. According to the state news agency Anadolu, an association had already filed a lawsuit in 2016 and requested that the decision at that time be canceled. Ataturk’s signature on the decision was falsified, the statement said. If the judges clear the way for the conversion, the decision could possibly be implemented as early as July 15, according to Turkish media. The date is symbolic: Then the coup attempt by parts of the military against Erdogan marks the fourth time.
Quelle: What / Dpa
Accessed on 07/02/2020 at 11:05 a.m. on https://www.sn.at/politik/weltpolitik/gericht-in-tuerkei-beraet-ueber-wahrzeichen-hagia-sophia-89636899