President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Hagia Sophia a mosque on July 10 with the first Muslim prayers to begin in two weeks. It came true after a top court ruled the ancient building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.

Closeness Between Erdoğan and President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs

So, Erdoğan has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics in his 17 years at the helm. He has long floated restoring the mosque status of the sixth-century building. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum in the early days of the modern Turkish state.

President of Turkey's Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş (on the left), and President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (in the middle). (Image Credit-Southfront)
President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş (on the left), and President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (in the middle). (Image Credit-Southfront)

In its ruling, the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court, said: “We conclude that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally.”

“The cabinet decision in 1934 that… defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” it said. For doing so, they referred to an edict that Atatürk signed it.

Efforts for Islamic Lessons

Erbaş noted that the Diyanet is carrying out efforts on the issue of Islamic lessons. Furthermore, he also said that they will visit the mosque during the preparations for its opening on July 24. “We’re working on what’s needed there. We aim to complete our works by July 24,” Erbaş said.

Preparations for reopening Hagia Sophia as a museum. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)
Preparations for reopening Hagia Sophia as a museum. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)