Tehran-Based Assembly Hails Turkey’s ‘Courageous’ Decision
TEHRAN (Dispatches) – The Iran-based World Assembly of Islamic Awakening on Sunday praised the Turkish government’s "courageous” decision to reconvert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia to a mosque.
In a statement, the assembly’s secretariat hailed the "return of the Islamic heritage to the Muslim world”.
It also applauded the "courageous and admirable move” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to revive Islam’s identity in Turkey.
The smart move reflects the wisdom of the Turkish government and its confrontation with the West’s cultural hegemony, the secretariat said, calling on all Muslims across the globe to support the decision.
Thousands of Turkish people performed Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia for the first time in 86 years last week. It came after a top Turkish court announced earlier this month it had annulled Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum.
As many as many as 350,000 people took part in Friday’s prayers, the president said.
Erdogan issued a decree restoring the iconic building as a mosque earlier this month, shortly after the Turkish high court ruled that the Hagia Sophia had been illegally made into a museum more than eight decades ago. The structure, listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, has since been renamed "The Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque.”
Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding leader of the Turkish republic converted the structure into a museum in 1934.
"This is Hagia Sophia breaking away from its captivity chains. It was the greatest dream of our youth,” Erdogan said last week. "It was the yearning of our people and it has been accomplished.” Erdogan also described its conversion into a museum by the republic’s founding leaders as a mistake that is being rectified.
Erdogan has lifted a ban on Muslim headscarves in state institutions, promoting religious education and taming Turkey’s powerful military, once a bastion of Ataturk’s secular ideals.