BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 P.M.) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signed a decree to turn the historic Hagia Sophia site back into a mosque.
On Friday, a Turkish court overturned a government decree in 1934 to transfer the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a museum.
The court stated, according to the Anadolu Agency, that the decree is illegal, noting that Hagia Sophia’s deed describes it as a mosque and cannot be changed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier suggested that the mosque be restored to the UNESCO World Heritage site, a focal point for both the Byzantine Christian and Ottoman Muslim empires, and it is now one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.
Today’s ruling was issued by the State Council, which is the highest administrative court in Turkey.
On Friday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called on Turkey not to convert the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul into a mosque, noting Turkey’s legal obligations.
“The Hagia Sophia, as part of Istanbul’s archaeological areas, is included in the World Heritage List as a museum. A number of legal obligations are attached to it. Thus the state must ensure that the exceptional total value of the buildings on this land does not change,” they said.