Turkey: Erdogan announces Hagia Sophia will reopen as mosque

Turkey: Erdogan announces Hagia Sophia will reopen as mosque
The Deisis (or Deësis) mosaic of Jesus Christ in Hagia Sophia dates to A.D. 1261 and was unearthed and restored in the 1930s. Other Christian mosaics in Hagia Sophia date to the 9th century. There are none from earlier than that because of the period of Iconoclasm in the Eastern Church, which prohibited the placement or use of icons. Original construction of the Byzantine cathedral, which still stands today, was completed in A.D. 537.

[Ed. – The article doesn’t even mention that Christians are upset because Hagia Sophia was much more than a “Byzantine monument.”  It was originally a Christian cathedral, and in fact hosted Christian worship and the Eastern patriarchs for more than 900 years (until 1453), as opposed to the less than 500 years it served as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire.  For centuries, in fact, Hagia Sophia could claim to be the chief seat of worship for the Christian world, after the Western Roman Empire basically collapsed between the fifth and sixth centuries.  From 1935 until this past decade, Hagia Sophia was operated as a national museum rather than a place of worship, a unifying measure instituted under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Friday that the Hagia Sophia, one of the architectural wonders of the world, would be reopened for Muslim worship as a mosque, sparking fury in the Christian community and neighbouring Greece.

His declaration came after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Byzantine monument’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.

In an address to the nation, Erdogan said the first Muslim prayers at the Hagia Sophia would be performed on July 24.

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