The world-famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul remains a heritage of the whole world, and the reopening of the ancient building as a mosque does not change that.
This was said by a spokesman for Turkish President Erdogan in an interview with Turkish media.
Muslims who come to pray do not hinder the other visitors, the spokesman emphasized. “The Christian icons are preserved there just as our ancestors maintained Christian values,” said the spokesman.
Particularly in countries with many Christian Orthodox believers, there is criticism of the plan to use the museum, which is now Hagia Sophia, as a mosque for the first time since 1934.
Hagia Sophia is a former cathedral that has been the centre of Christian Orthodox churches. After the conquest of what was then Constantinople, capital of the Christian Byzantine Empire, in 1453, the Ottoman conquerors turned it into a mosque.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire shortly after World War I, secular reformer Kemal Musafa ‘Atatürk’ turned the building into a museum. Erdogan wants the building to serve as a mosque again.
Erdogan’s spokesman pointed out that it is nothing special that the Haga Sophia will also be used for prayer services. According to him, this happens all over the world with historical buildings, including Notre Dame in Paris.