Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree on Friday opening Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia as a mosque after a Turkish court annulled a 1934 government decree that had turned it into a museum.
Erdogan shared on his Twitter feed a copy of the decree he had signed which said the decision had been taken to hand control of the Ayasofya Mosque, as it is known in Turkish, to the country’s religious directorate and reopen it for worship.
The Council of State issued its ruling in a statement late afternoon July 10, ending a years-long legal process over the status of the Hagia Sophia upon the appeal of an Istanbul-based association.
The court based its verdict on the fact that the Hagia Sophia was a property of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han Foundation and registered to be used only as a mosque. The decision to grant a status of museum to the Hagia Sophia was given by former President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1934.
The reasoning of the Council of State stressed that the government in 1934 had no powers to change the status of the religious structure.