The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Pope 'very distressed' over Turkey's Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque Open in fullscreen

The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Pope 'very distressed' over Turkey's Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 July, 2020

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
"My thoughts go to Istanbul. I'm thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed," the pope said
Pope Francis said Sunday he was "very distressed" over Turkey's decision to convert the Byzantine-era monument Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

"My thoughts go to Istanbul. I'm thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed," the pope said in the Vatican's first reaction to a decision that has drawn international criticism.

The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano had on Saturday carried reaction from different countries about Friday's decision to turn the monument from a museum back into a mosque but without any comment.

A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics say is chipping away at the Muslim-majority country's secular pillars, announced Friday that Muslim prayers would begin on July 24 at the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Read also: Erdogan rebuffs criticism over Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

In the past, he has repeatedly called for the stunning building to be renamed as a mosque and in 2018, he recited a verse from the Koran at Hagia Sophia.  

Erdogan's announcement came after a top court cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision under modern Turkey's secularising founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to preserve the church-turned-mosque as a museum.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay connected

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More