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Thousands pray at Hagia Sophia, want it reverted to a Mosque

Tens of thousands of Turkish Muslims have gathered on Saturday dawn to pray outside historic Aya Sofia museum

Source : Muslim Village / 03 Jun 2014

Tens of thousands of Turkish Muslims have gathered on Saturday dawn to pray outside historic Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia) museum, urging Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to reopen it as a mosque.

“This is a serious push to break Ayasofya’s chains,” Salih Turan, head of the Anatolia Youth Association, which has collected 15 million signatures to petition for it to be turned back into a mosque, told Reuters.

“Ayasofya is a symbol for the Islamic world and the symbol of Istanbul’s conquest. Without it, the conquest is incomplete, we have failed to honor Sultan Mehmet’s trust,” he said, citing a 15th Century deed signed by the conquering Caliph and decrying as sin other uses of Aya Sophia.

A church for over 1,000 years, and a mosque for 500 more, Aya Sophia is the most spectacular building in Istanbul.

The church was turned into a mosque after Constantinople was taken by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.

Extraordinary masters of the Ottoman Empire architects repaired the building extensively in the 16th century, providing greater exterior support for the dome and the walls. Minarets were also added.

Yet, a Turkish secular law in 1934 barred religious services at the 6th-century monument, a decision that has applied ever since.

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc stood outside Aya Sophia in November and said he “prayed to God it would soon be smiling again,” then cited a law forbidding houses of worship to be used for other purposes.

In 2012, Erdogan also ruled out changing Aya Sophia’s status as long as another great Istanbul house of worship, the 17th Century Sultan Ahmed Mosque, remains mostly empty of worshippers.

Ibrahim Kalin, a senior Erdogan adviser, asserted there were no plans to alter the monument’s current status.

“Speculation on changing it into a church or a mosque remains speculation,” Kalin said.

“Hagia Sophia has been open to all visitors from Turkey and around the world and will remain so.”

 

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