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Turkey: Istanbul locals react to possible conversion of Hagia Sophia back to mosque03:04

Turkey: Istanbul locals react to possible conversion of Hagia Sophia back to mosque

Turkey, Istanbul
July 1, 2020 at 21:27 GMT -00:00 · Published

Istanbul locals gave their reactions on Wednesday to the impending decision by the Turkish Council of State on whether to convert the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) museum back into a mosque.

The Council is expected to reach a decision on July 2, after months of cajoling by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the museum's status.

"Frankly, I see it as unnecessary. Tourism revenues are already all over the place because of COVID. Tens of thousands of people come here every month to worship, and doing something like this, creating an artificial agenda, there's nothing logical," said Mert Gulbahar, a local.

Others were more enthusiastic about the prospect, pointing to the building's prestige in the Muslim world.

"I hope, our deputies, our president, our parliament will make a decision on this. I hope that all Muslims here will come and worship with dignity," said another local, Halil Tilev.

Before being a mosque the now-museum had been a Byzantine church for centuries. The move to change its status again has drawn ire from the Greek government and the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I, resides in Istanbul.

Turkey: Istanbul locals react to possible conversion of Hagia Sophia back to mosque03:04
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Description

Istanbul locals gave their reactions on Wednesday to the impending decision by the Turkish Council of State on whether to convert the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) museum back into a mosque.

The Council is expected to reach a decision on July 2, after months of cajoling by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the museum's status.

"Frankly, I see it as unnecessary. Tourism revenues are already all over the place because of COVID. Tens of thousands of people come here every month to worship, and doing something like this, creating an artificial agenda, there's nothing logical," said Mert Gulbahar, a local.

Others were more enthusiastic about the prospect, pointing to the building's prestige in the Muslim world.

"I hope, our deputies, our president, our parliament will make a decision on this. I hope that all Muslims here will come and worship with dignity," said another local, Halil Tilev.

Before being a mosque the now-museum had been a Byzantine church for centuries. The move to change its status again has drawn ire from the Greek government and the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I, resides in Istanbul.

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