President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday the time had come to rename Istanbul’s heritage Hagia Sophia as a mosque, saying that it had been a “very big mistake ” to change over it into a historical center.
“Hagia Sophia will not be called a museum. It will be taken out of that status. We will call Hagia Sophia a mosque,” Erdogan told A Haber television during an interview.
“Those who come to Hagia Sophia will visit Hagia Sophia mosque,” he said.
The previous church and mosque, presently a gallery, regularly starts confrontations among Christians and Muslims over Islamic exercises held there, including the reading of verses from the Holy Quran or collective prayers.
Its mainstream status enables devotees of all religions to ponder, reflect or just appreciate the astonishing arhitecture of a structure going back to the 6th century.
Erdogan is crusading for votes in favor of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in front of municipal elections on March 31.
The Turkish leader said the plan would be discussed after the elections. “We think the time has come to take such a step given there is a demand” from the Turkish people, he said.
Such a move is probably going to cause outrage among Christians and raise tensions between noteworthy adversaries Turkey and Greece, both NATO individuals.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited the Hagia Sophia in February.
Asked about the criticism, Erdogan said: “There are attacks targeting Al-Aqsa mosque,” referring to the compound in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
“Those who remain silent on this cannot dare to give advise to us on,” he added.
Image via Steemkr