Demand for Hagia Sophia to be opened for prayer ‘inadmissible,’ says top court
The Constitutional Court on Sept. 13 held an application made by a private association that called for the opening of the Hagia Sophia to worshipping as “inadmissible” on the grounds of “incompetence ratione personae,” state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
The Constitutional Court dismisses applications as incompatible ratione personae when the applicant is not a victim of the events or measures in question.
The relevant Istanbul-based association requested the Turkish government to make arrangements to open the Hagia Sophia as a Muslim prayer house in 2004 but did not receive a response.
In 2005, they appealed to the Council of State, which rejected the association’s request. This time, the association took the case to the Constitutional Court in an application in 2015 claiming the current status of the Hagia Sophia serving as a museum is in violation of the freedom of religion and belief.
Constructed in sixth century
The Hagia Sophia was constructed in the sixth century as a church in the Christian Byzantine Empire and was the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Istanbul’s former name.
When Ottoman forces under Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II conquered the city in 1453, he ordered the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Islamic minarets were built around its Byzantine dome.
It served as a mosque until after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire when the authorities of the new Turkish Republic ordered it to become a museum in the mid-1930s.