The decision of the Turkish authorities to change the status of the Museum of Hagia Sophia was made with disregard for the feelings of believers of religious minorities, about it said July 10, Deputy Chairman of the Commission on freedom of religion in the world is Tony Perkins.
“The Commission unequivocally condemns the politicization of the Hagia Sophia, the architectural marvel, which has long been considered a cherished Testament to the complex history and rich diversity. Both Christians and Muslims attach great cultural and spiritual importance to the Hagia Sophia, whose universal value to humanity was confirmed by the inclusion in the world heritage List of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) in 1985,” reads the statement.
The Commission recommended to the State Department to include Turkey in the list that are involved in serious violations of religious freedom or tolerance to them.
High representative of the European Union for foreign Affairs and security policy Josep Borrell criticized the Turkish decision, announced by the press service of the EU on 10 July.
“The Hagia Sophia has a symbolic, historical and universal value. Turkey has developed a well-established tradition of preservation of culture and the recognized tradition of intellectual and cultural openness. The decision of the Council of State of Turkey and President Erdogan to transfer the monument under the Control of the President of religious Affairs is regrettable,” – said Borrell.
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.
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.