Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a decree that the Cathedral of St. Sophia will be permanently open to Muslim worshippers. This was announced by the governor of Istanbul province Ali Erlikaya in his Twitter account. According to the governor, from July 24, the Aya-Sofia Mosque will receive worshippers 24 hours a day. Erlikaya also thanked the head of the state for making this decision.
Earlier, the cathedral of St. Sophia hosted the first namaz in 86 years. It is noted that the call to prayer, which was heard from the minarets, was read by Erdogan himself. All believers were given water and the text of Sultan Mehmed Fatih’s decree. It refers to the transfer of the shrine to Muslims before the Day of Judgment. During the prayer, the ancient Christian frescoes were hidden.
On July 10, the State Council of Turkey, the highest administrative court, unanimously declared it illegal and overturned a 1934 cabinet decision giving st. Sophia’s Cathedral the status of a museum. Prior to that, on June 5, the Turkish President instructed his aides to carry out a study to prepare the cathedral for the official transformation into a mosque. On July 2, the Turkish Supreme Court ruled that the status of the cathedral could be changed by a decree of the president of the country.
Sofia Cathedral was built on the orders of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD. After the Turks captured Constantinople, it was made a mosque, but in 1935 the founder of the modern Turkish state Mustafa Kemal Ataturk gave the shrine the status of a museum.