Cyprus Mail

Presidency condemns decision to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque

Muslims gather for evening prayers in front of Hagia Sophia after a court decision paved the way for it to be converted from a museum into a mosque

The presidency on Saturday strongly condemned Turkey’s decision to turn the church of Hagia Sofia from a museum to a mosque.

Hagia Sofia was the global symbol of Christianity for centuries, a symbol of where East meats West and an integral cultural part of the entire humanity, a statement from the presidency said.

“The decision to turn it into a mosque constitutes an extreme provocation against world cultural heritage, a blow against acceptance of diversity and religious tolerance, but also a violation of every international legal rule, principle and value of the UN and Unesco, and a violation of international conservation treaties,” it said.

Turkey has proven once more that it respects nothing and no one when it comes to its aspirations.

The presidency urged the UN, the EU, the Council of Europe and the international community to react with decisiveness against this new provocation from Turkey.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that the first prayers would be held in Hagia Sophia on July 24, after declaring the ancient monument was once again a mosque following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.

Erdogan said the nearly 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners, but added that Turkey had exercised its sovereign right in converting it to a mosque and would interpret criticism of the move as an attack on its independence.

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