President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that any criticism on his government plans to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque is considered as “an attack on Turkey’s sovereignty.
This was Erdogan’s response to the mounting criticism by the U.S., France, Russia, particularly Greece and other countries.
“Accusations against our country about Hagia Sophia directly target our sovereign rights,” he said.
“We are determined to continue to protect the rights of Muslims, our country’s majority faith, as well as members of all other faiths and religions,” he added at the formal opening of another mosque in Istanbul.
President #Erdogan responded today mounting criticisms from the US, Russia and others on his gov't plans to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, said he considered these as interference into #Turkey's sovereignty. pic.twitter.com/NX93QLnCkE
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) July 3, 2020
On Thursday, the Turkish Council of State concluded the hearing on the Hagia Sophia case aimed at converting the UNESCO World Heritage into a mosque. The verdict will be officially announced in 15 days.
However, the CoS threw the ball into Erdogan’s court saying that the conversion from museum into a mosque could happen through a presidential decree.
Turkey was “shocked” at a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging Erdogan not to go ahead with the plan.
France’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the sixth-century structure, which served for nine centuries as a Christian cathedral before the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, must remain open to all.
Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has warned that Erdogan’s plan would turn millions of Christians again the Islam.