Erdogan made his announcement simply an hour after the court docket ruling was revealed, regardless of worldwide warnings to not change the standing of the almost 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
“The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque […] to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship,” the choice signed by Erdogan mentioned.
Erdogan had earlier proposed restoring the mosque standing of the Unesco World Heritage Website, a focus of each the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of the vital visited monuments in Turkey.
The US, Greece and church leaders had been amongst these to precise concern about altering the standing of the massive sixth-century constructing, transformed right into a museum within the early days of the trendy secular Turkish state underneath Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“It was concluded that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally,” the Council of State, Turkey’s high administrative court docket in Ankara, mentioned in its ruling.
“The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” it mentioned, referring to an edict signed by Ataturk.
Russian Orthodox Church expresses remorse
The affiliation which introduced the court docket case, the newest in a 16-year authorized battle, mentioned Hagia Sophia was the property of the Ottoman chief who captured the town in 1453 and turned the already 900-year-old Byzantine church right into a mosque.
Erdogan, a pious Muslim, threw his weight behind the marketing campaign to transform the constructing earlier than native elections final 12 months.
The Ottomans constructed minarets alongside the huge domed construction, whereas inside they added big calligraphic panels bearing the Arabic names of the early Muslim caliphs alongside the monument’s historic Christian iconography.
The Russian Orthodox Church mentioned it regretted that the court docket didn’t take its issues into consideration when making its ruling and mentioned the choice might result in even better divisions, the TASS information company reported.
Beforehand, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the non secular head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and primarily based in Istanbul, mentioned changing it right into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo and Greece had additionally urged Turkey to keep up the constructing as a museum.
However Turkish teams have lengthy campaigned for Hagia Sophia’s conversion right into a mosque, saying this may higher mirror Turkey’s standing as an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.