Turkish Supreme Court allows President to change the status of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Cathedral. Photo: orthodoxtimes.com

The Supreme Court of Turkey has ruled that the status of Hagia Sophia can be changed by a decree of President Erdogan, who earlier proposed to convert it to a mosque. 

On July 2, 2020, Turkish judges ruled that Kemal Ataturk’s 1934 decree on the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum was and is legal but noted that the current Turkish head of state had the right to decide whether to change it or not, reports "Orthodox Times".

The pro-government press points out, however, that in the event of a positive proposal, it is assumed that the first Muslim prayer will be held on July 15, the fourth anniversary of the failed coup attempt (2016), which may affect the time the final decision will be adopted.

The United States has stepped up pressure on the Turkish side, as evidenced by yesterday’s intervention by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The head of US diplomacy called on the Turkish government to maintain the current status of the monument, following similar statements made by the State Department in recent days.

However, Ankara expressed its astonishment at the US Secretary of State’s statement and responded that Hagia Sophia is the property of Turkey like all cultural assets in the country and that it is an internal affair within Ankara’s sovereign rights.


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