President Recep Tayyip Erdodan on March 24 voiced the possibility of reverting the Hagia Sophia, which has been used as a museum since 1935 and is considered one of the world’s wonders, to a mosque.
“This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque,” Erdodan said during a live interview with Turkish broadcaster TGRT.
“This is not a strange proposal,” he said regarding the calls to convert the historical building to serve the purpose it did for half a millennium.
“As you know, the mosque was converted to a museum in 1935, as a reflection of the (Republican People’s Party) CHP mentality. We may as well take a step and change that,” he concluded, pointing to the harshly secularist policies of the 1930s CHP, which is the main opposition today.
The Hagia Sophia was built in the sixth century during the Christian Byzantine Empire and served as the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was converted into an imperial mosque with the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The structure was converted into a museum during the strictly secular single-party rule in 1935, but there have been discussions around converting it back to a mosque, with public demands to restore it as a place of worship gaining traction on social media.