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ISTANBUL — Changing Istanbul’s sixth century Hagia Sophia again right into a mosque would sow division, the non secular head of the world’s Orthodox Christians warned on Tuesday, forward of a Turkish courtroom ruling on a constructing that has been a museum since 1934.
President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque standing of the UNESCO World Heritage Web site, a constructing on the coronary heart of each Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and at this time one in every of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
The courtroom is ready to rule on July 2 on a problem to its present standing that disputes the legality of its conversion right into a museum in 1934 within the early years of the fashionable secular Turkish state based by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“The conversion of Hagia Sophia right into a mosque will disappoint thousands and thousands of Christians around the globe,” mentioned Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the non secular head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. He’s primarily based in Istanbul.