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World Turkey will inform UNESCO about Hagia Sophia moves, minister says

13:16  13 july  2020
13:16  13 july  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Museum or mosque? The battle over the fate of Turkey's historic Hagia Sophia

  Museum or mosque? The battle over the fate of Turkey's historic Hagia Sophia “It captures a unique history, why pull that into politics?” said Berk Esen, an assistant professor of international relations.Now the more than 1,500-year-old former cathedral and then mosque is at the center of a modern struggle between Turkey’s secular roots and its president’s Islamist aspirations. The battle over who, if anybody, can pray in the UNESCO World Heritage site reflects a larger one playing out across a society split between secularism and religious conservatism.

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will inform the United Nation's cultural body UNESCO about steps being taken regarding Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, after Ankara converted the museum back into a mosque.

a group of people walking in front of a building: Police officers walk in front of Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii, in Istanbul © Reuters/Murad Sezer Police officers walk in front of Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii, in Istanbul Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu wearing a suit and tie: FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu address the media during a joint news conference after a meeting in Berlin © Reuters/POOL New FILE PHOTO: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu address the media during a joint news conference after a meeting in Berlin

On Friday, a Turkish court ruled that the sixth-century building's conversion to a museum was unlawful and President Tayyip Erdogan declared that it is now a mosque. Cavusoglu was speaking in an interview with state broadcaster TRT Haber.

UNESCO said on Friday it would review the status of the monument as a World Heritage Site following Erdogan's enouncement. Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine church for nine centuries before the Ottomans converted it to a mosque.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans)

Turkey: Erdogan on a symbolic visit to Hagia Sophia, after his controversial reconversion .
© Turkish Presidential Press Office, AFP Turkish President Erdogan, accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Tourism (right), leaves the former Hagia Sophia, Sunday July 19, 2020. The Turkish president paid a symbolic visit to the former Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Sunday. This visit is the first since the controversial conversion of this building into a mosque last week.

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