Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that it is the public's duty to fill mosques all around Turkey, speaking on Friday at a ceremony for the reopening of İstanbul's Ortaköy Mosque, which has been under renovation for the last three years,
During Erdoğan's speech, someone from the crowd shouted, "Let the Hagia Sophia open as a mosque," to which Erdoğan responded by saying that the Blue Mosque must be filled first.
“Our duty is to fill our mosques. The Ortaköy Mosque is small, so we should [concentrate on] filling the Blue Mosque, Süleymaniye Mosque and Fatih Mosque first,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan also paid tribute to Nigoğos Balyan, the architect of the Ortaköy Mosque, who was of Armenian origin.
“Ortaköy Mosque has a special place among our national monuments. Therefore, we should commemorate all those who worked toward the construction of this beautiful site,” Erdoğan added.
Turkish media have described: "In a clever diplomatic way Recep Tayyip Erdogan shows he postpones any discussions regarding the request of some Muslims to convert Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, from museum to a mosque."
This specific temple was built as a Byzantine church and was converted into a mosque after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. It has been functioning as a museum since 1933 by decision of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk.