The Turkish president on July 27 said he believes that the reversion of Hagia Sophia from museum to mosque pleased believers of any religion.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks came after a press conference that was conducted following a Cabinet meeting at the capital Ankara and continued for over 2.5 hours.
Referring to criticism directed by certain foreign powers against Turkey following the reversion of the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, Erdoğan vowed that the Turkish government would not let anyone interfere with the country’s internal affairs and values.
“[…] as one of the top symbols of our civilizations, the Hagia Sophia is going to continue to serve as a place of worship for our nation, the Islamic world, and all Muslims,” Erdoğan said.
The Turkish leader underlined that a total of 500 guards would be permanently deployed to protect the architectural gem, which can be visited by Christians as well.
On July 24, Friday’s prayers in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years.
Some 350,000 Muslims took part in Friday prayers both inside and outside the historic mosque in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.
On July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use as a mosque.
Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934- nearly 500 years- and most recently as a museum for 86 years.
In 1985, during its time as a museum, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Besides being a mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.
Erdoğan went on to say that the two-year assessment of the presidential system of governance was recently shared with the public, and findings suggested Turkey has achieved a historic breakthrough despite regional and global extraordinary situations.
“As I have always stated, our greatest strength is our unity, solidarity and brotherhood,” said Erdoğan, adding that country’s commitment to such values was what prevented the collapse of the country that has been subjected to coup attempts, political and financial traps and terrorism.
He further noted that some foreign countries sought to corner his country, assuming it was weak and timid, however, Turkey has improved itself in a variety of fields and is aware of its power.
“I underline that we [Turkey] do not have eyes on others’ rights, land, peace or wealth,” Erdoğan said, noting Turkey’s concern was to protect its own rights and interests.
The president stressed that Ankara would not hesitate to respond to those planning to dictate Turkey, in line with the legitimate means emanating from international law.
“Those attempting to isolate our country by fait-accompli on matters that could be resolved by negotiation and fair agreements should know they will encounter this response every time,” he said.
Hurriyet Daily News