Turkey’s top administrative court today announced that it will deliver the verdict on whether Istanbulâs Hagia Sophia should remain a museum or be turned into a mosque within 15 days, Turkish dailyÂ MilliyetÂ reported.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a building at the heart of both Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and today one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
The Turkish government decided to turn the mosque into a museum in 1934 the early years of the modern secular Turkish state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The court case disputes the legality of that conversion.
Yesterday, US Secretary of State Mike PompeoÂ urgedÂ Turkey to let Hagia Sophia remain a museum.Â Ankara slammed Pompeoâs remarks.
In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said: âWe are shocked at the statement made by the US State Department on Hagia Sophia.â
Meanwhile, last month, the spiritual head of the worldâs Orthodox ChristiansÂ warnedÂ that converting Istanbulâs sixth-century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque would sow division.
The Hagia Sophia was used as a church for 916 years. In 1453, it was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II when the empire conquered Istanbul.