ISTANBUL — Since it was built in the sixth century, changing hands from empire to empire, Hagia Sophia has been a Byzantine cathedral, a mosque under the Ottomans, and finally a museum, making it one of the world’s most potent symbols of Christian-Muslim rivalry and of Turkey’s more recent devotion to secularism.
Now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making moves to declare it a working mosque once more, fulfilling a dream for supporters and conservative Muslims far beyond Turkey — but threatening to set off an international furor.
The reconsideration has escalated tensions with Turkey’s rival, Greece, and set off a chorus of dismay from political and religious leaders as diverse as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.
A Turkish administrative court will reveal in two weeks its ruling on whether to revoke an 80-year old decree that declared it a museum. Erdogan has the final decision.
New York Times