For centuries, the Hagia Sophia was arguably the greatest church of eastern Christianity up until 1453, when the Ottomans invaded Constantinople and renamed the city Istanbul, and turned the great church into a mosque. After the secularization of Turkey, the mosque was closed and in 1935 reopened as a museum. Now less than a century later, a court case opened almost two decades ago will determine if the museum now will re-open as a mosque according to a report:
The Constitutional Court of Turkey is due to decide on Thursday whether Hagia Sophia will be turned into a place of Muslim worship after an appeal made by a private organization called “Authority for Historical Monuments and Environment”.
The Temple that was built in the 6th Century AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian as a Christian Cathedral, is now a Museum.
The organization had requested the Turkish government in 2004 to make arrangements to open Hagia Sophia as a mosque but did not receive a response.
Then, in 2005, they appealed to the Council of State, which rejected their request.
The organization, which campaigns to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque since 2004, claims that the denial of the conversion is against freedom of religion. (source)
This will be an interesting case to watch, as the direction that Turkey takes may say much about her future.
It is already known that Turkey wants to revive her Ottoman past.
Will she keep the Hagia Sophia as a museum for now, giving an impression of a “moderate” approach to her neighbors while still retaining the same character? Will she make it into a mosque outright and signal that she is entering into a “conquest” mode? Will she respond differently?
It is to be determined, but Turkey will have to be watched closely as well as Erdogan and the response of the people.