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Monday, February 4, 2013

TURKEY: Parliament considering bid to turn Hagia Sophia into mosque


The Hagia Sophia Museum was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360. Hürriyet photoA parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque.

Three citizens living in the northwestern province of Kocaeli appealed to the commission with a request to change the status of Hagia Sophia. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship. 

The application has been taken under consideration by the Parliament’s Petition Commission, Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday, adding that the commission would be asking for the opinions of the related institutions on the issue. 

As well as the application received from the Kocaeli citizens, the commission received 15 separate petitions within five days in the form of electronic mails, all asking for “opening of the Hagia Sophia to worship.”

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.

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