Criticisms of Hagia Sophia status attack on Turkish sovereignty: Erdoğan
Any foreign intervention over Turkey’s internal deliberations about the status of the Hagia Sophia is an attack against its sovereignty, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, stressing Turkey protects the rights of Muslims as well as members of all other faiths.
“Nobody has the right and authority in interfering [with issues concerning] our places of worship. Accusation directed against our country over the Hagia Sophia are directly an attack against our sovereignty,” Erdoğan said during the ground-breaking ceremony of an Istanbul mosque on July 3.
Erdoğan said Turkey does not meddle in any other countries’ religious services provided to its citizens and expects the same from all the countries.
The president’s remarks follow criticisms by many Western countries, including the United States, over the Turkish government’s pledge to convert Hagia Sophia’s status from a museum into a mosque.
After years-long hearings on the matter, Turkey’s Administrative Court said on July 2 it will issue its verdict on the case within 15 days.
Erdoğan informed that there are around 435 churches and synagogues in Turkey and that this shows “all the citizens enjoy their right to practice their faith.” New churches, like the Iron Dome in the Balat neighborhood of Istanbul, is also being built, while many of the places of worships have been renovated through the state’s funds, he said.