The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to criticism of the countries that condemned the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, as reported by the Agency Anadolu on July 11.
“Turkey took the decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia from Museum to mosque, based on the desire and the will of the people. The opinion of other countries could not affect our decision,” Erdogan said.
July 10 the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree that transformed the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a working mosque. The decision was made shortly after the Turkish state Council (highest administrative court) canceled the decree of Kemal Ataturk from 1934 on the transformation of the Cathedral into a Museum.
The decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a Museum into a mosque could be its exclusion from the list of world heritage of UNESCO.
Religious ceremony in the mosque Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will resume on 24 July, after preparations, it was stated by President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
USA and Europe condemned Turkey’s decision to change the status of Hagia Sophia. The decision of the Turkish authorities was taken in disregard for the feelings of believers of religious minorities, as noted in the Commission on freedom of religion in the world.
Hagia Sophia is located in the historical center of Istanbul, Sultanahmet. In 1453, after the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans the Cathedral was converted into a mosque. In 1935 it became a Museum. In 1985, St. Sophia Cathedral was included in UNESCO world heritage site.