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POLITICS >Turkey's nationalist party seeks prayers in the Hagia Sophia

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The Hagia Sophia turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Hagia Sophia turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Nationalist Movement Party's (MHP) deputy parliamentary group chair, Yusuf Halaçoğlu, has submitted a bill to Parliament to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, suggesting that the current function of the Hagia Sophia as a museum was "not legal." 

In his lawful cause attached to the bill submitted on Nov. 8, Halaçoğlu recalled that a Cabinet decree declaring the Hagia Sophia as museum was released in 1934, but this decree was not published in the Official Gazette or any other similar official publication. However, both according to the Constitution of 1924 and the current Constitution, all bills, proposals or decrees need to be published in the Official Gazette after presidential approval in order for them to be accepted as laws or governmental decrees having the force of law (KHK), he explained.

“No such status exists with regard to the Hagia Sophia, here, there is clearly an illegality,” Halaçoğlu said in the lawful cause. He further claimed that the signature on the decree of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, was a forgery.

Today a museum, tomorrow a mosque?

“Today, all of our mosques that were commissioned by sultans, from the morning call to prayer to the evening call to prayer, every day of the week, are open for prayers and for the visit of any person regardless of their religion. However, the Hagia Sophia can only be visited as a museum against the codes and law. This bill has been prepared aiming to open the Hagia Sophia - which is the symbol of the Conquest of Istanbul and which has been resounding with the sounds of the call to prayer for 481 years - as a mosque for prayers,” he added.

The Hagia Sophia Museum was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360. Until the year of 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. Following the city’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire, the building turned into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum.

November/09/2013

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