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Erdogan: Conversion of Hagia Sophia into Mosque “Crown of 2020”

In his New Year’s Day address to the nation on Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called his controversial decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque the “crown of 2020.”

While acknowledging the devastating impact of the covid-19 pandemic internationally, Erdogan made a note of listing his country’s achievements in the face of the global health crisis.

The highlight of such accomplishments for Erdogan was the conversion of the Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.

The Hagia Sophia, protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is one of the holiest sites in Orthodox Christianity.

 

Built where a fourth-century church once stood, the Hagia Sophia was constructed in the sixth century and is one of the best surviving examples of Byzantine architecture.

After the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Hagia Sofia was converted into a mosque, and many precious mosaics were destroyed.

The rise of secularism in Turkey during the early twentieth century, spearheaded by President Kemal Ataturk, culminated in the transformation of the site from a mosque into a museum.

Turkey’s decision to change the site once again has faced overwhelming criticism internationally. Many view the act as a nod to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s base of religious nationalists.