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Erdogan rebuffs criticism over Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

Jul 12, 2020 | 🚀 Fathership
ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday rejected worldwide condemnation over Turkey's decision to convert the Byzantine-era monument Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, saying it represented his country's will to use its "Sovereign rights".

In the past, he has repeatedly called for the stunning building to be renamed as a mosque and in 2018, he recited a verse from the Quran at Hagia Sophia.

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Erdogan then signed a presidential decree handing the control of the "Hagia Sophia Mosque" to Turkey's religious affairs directorate, Diyanet.

On Friday, Erdogan gave assurances that the Hagia Sophia would be open to all visitors, including non-Muslims.