Pope 'deeply pained' over Turkey's move on Hagia Sophia

Pope 'deeply pained' over Turkey's move on Hagia Sophia

The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano on Saturday carried reaction from different countries to Friday's decision to turn the monument from a museum back into a mosque, but without any comment.

"The danger is that we reflect on the issue of Hagia Sophia from the angle of the Greek-Turkish relationship, while it is a global one".

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed 1,500 years ago as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire and it was there they crowned their emperors. The colossal Santa Sophia cathedral was turned into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453. It was then turned into a museum in 1934.

The decision means that Hagia Sophia can now be used as a mosque, and a presidential decree was signed opening the site for Muslim prayers.

His decision to reconvert Hagia Sophia into a mosque has been condemned by UNESCO, the United States, the European Union and the World Council of Churches.

In the video, which was addressed to American Muslims in honor of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Erdoğan said, "I would like to reiterate that al Quds as-Sharif [the Temple Mount], the holy place of the three religions ... is a red line for all Muslims in the world", he said.

The move has been met with condemnation from countries including Greece and Russian Federation, and UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision and called on the Turkish authorities to "open a dialogue without delay".

Police officers walk in front of Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 11, 2020.

The World Council of Churches has also called for the decision to be reversed whilst Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, called it disappointing. The Islamic call to prayer is expected to ring out from it again on July 24.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia's status, and Turkey's decision raised questions about the effect on its universal value as a site of importance transcending borders and generations.

Defending the decision, President Erdogan stressed that the country had exercised its sovereign right, and he added that the building would remain open to all Muslims, non-Muslims and foreign visitors.

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