A recent Turkish report claims Ankara intends to turn Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.
According to the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, the Turkish State Council is expected to consider converting Hagia Sophia, which was the largest Greek Orthodox Church in the world for almost 1,000 years, into a Mosque.
Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1945 after a decision was made by the Turkish government’s cabinet. However, the new report claims the Turkish Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Monuments and the Environment has now filed a lawsuit seeking the annulment of the 1945 decision demanding that the museum be converted into a mosque.
According to Yeni Safak, the Council of State will decide if the Monastery will be turned into a Mosque again, with Muslim fundamentalists pushing for Hagia Sophia to become a place of worship for Islamists.
For over 900 years Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and a principal setting for church councils and imperial ceremonies.
Despite this violent setback, Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque.
Hagia Sophia served as the principal mosque of Istanbul for almost 500 years. No major structural changes were made at first. At some early point, all the faces depicted in the church’s mosaics were covered in plaster due to the Islamic prohibition of figurative imagery. Various additions were made over the centuries by successive sultans.
At around 1945, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularised and turned into the Ayasofya Museum. The prayer rugs were removed, revealing the marble beneath, but the mosaics remained largely plastered over and the building was allowed to decay for some time. Some of the calligraphic panels were moved to other Mosques, but eight roundels were left and can still be seen today.