Istanbul: Turkish President Taib Erdogan is reportedly preparing to open the door for the opening of Hagia Sophia, a popular Christian shrine in Turkey. The Turkish media reports that people in various government leadership positions have been instructed in this regard. Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine shrine, now stands as a museum. At a meeting of the central executive committee of his party, AKP, Taib Erdogan took the matter up for debate, the media reported, citing some credible sources.

The meeting decided to make plans to release the shrine for Islamic worship while retaining it as a museum. The Erdogan government celebrated the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman Turks’ conquest of Constantinople by reading the Qur’an inside the church. It was criticized in a strong language, including in Greece. Built-in the 6th century AD (537 AD), it is one of the most important Byzantine structures in Constantinople.

It was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I. Hagia Sophia was formerly known as ‘The Church of the Holy Wisdom’. With the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453, Hagia made Sophia a mosque. Many of the paintings in the building were destroyed. The Christian community was very saddened by this. In the days of Mustafa Kamal Atatർrk, the father of modern Turkey, it has been converted into a museum considering the sentiments of the Christian community. In recent years, a number of Islamic organizations have called for permission to pray at the shrine.

In 2013, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arnik had said that he could leave the shrine for Islamic prayers. In 2014, Saudi imam Abdullah Basbhar also organized a mass prayer on the street to address the same demand. But in 2018, the Turkish Union for Historical Monuments approached the Supreme Court demanding that the shrine be given up to Muslim prayers, but the court rejected their argument. The court issued the order citing the shortcomings in the application form. It is observed that the Hagia shrine will become a mosque if the extremist Islamist Taib Erdogan acts.


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