Ankara responds to US concerns on Hagia Sophia
Turkey has responded to the United States’ envoy for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, who called on the Turkish government to maintain the status of the Hagia Sophia as a museum and stressed that it is an active contributor to the preservation of 18 world heritage sites.
“Hagia Sophia is Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s endowment. Any decision on its use is our domestic affair. Turkey is an active contributor to the preservation of our 18 world heritage sites,” deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kıran said on Twitter on June 26 in response to Brownback’s earlier Twitter message.
“Don’t worry @IRFAmbassador Turkey will continue to protect its cultural and religious heritage,” he said.
The Council of State is currently examining the request for the annulment of a cabinet decree of 1934 that turned the Hagia Sophia from a mosque into a museum. The court is expected to announce its decision on the Hagia Sophia’s status in early July on whether the site can be converted into a mosque.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said his government will follow the court’s decision concerning the Hagia Sophia.
“The Hagia Sophia holds enormous spiritual & cultural significance to billions of believers of different faiths around the world. We call on the Govt of #Turkey to maintain it as a @UNESCO World Heritage site & to maintain accessibility to all in its current status as a museum,” the U.S.’s envoy for religious freedom tweeted on June 25.