The Turkish government is allowed to redesign the old Byzantine basilica Hagia Sophia from the 6th century as an Islamic mosque.
That is the decision of the Turkish Supreme Court. President Tayyip Erdogan immediately confirmed this through a decree. The decision could lead to tensions with Greece and Russia.
The issue has also divided the Turks and thus came before Turkey’s highest court. The proponents of the mosque have now supported that.
The court unlawfully declared ex-President Atatürk’s decree that the building was turned into a museum and overturned it. Current President Tayyip Erdogan immediately signed a proclamation officially making the building a mosque.
Conservative Turks have long wanted to transform Hagia Sophia (or Aya Sophia in Turkish) into a mosque, as it used to be. Among them is the Islamist party of President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power in Turkey for 18 years now.
For Erdogan, the court’s decision is, therefore, a boost, especially now that the economy is not running well and the regime is starting to wear out.
His government believes that Turkey can decide what to do with the building and is opposed to “foreign interference”.