Tags: Religion | Trump Administration | Erdogan | Hagia Sophia | Turkey | mosque | museum

State Dept. Won't Condemn Erdogan Makeover of Historic Turkish Site Into Mosque

woman in a head covering walks with a little girl outside the hagia sophia
People walk in front of Hagia Sophia on July 11, 2020 in Istanbul, a day after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Hagia Sophia's status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque. (Ozan Kose/Getty Images)

By Wednesday, 15 July 2020 06:42 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did nothing less than stun much of Turkey and the non-Muslim world by announcing he was converting Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque for Muslim worship.

Erdogan’s decision has drawn condemnation from across the globe, with particularly strong statements coming from Pope Francis, the World Council of Churches, and the European Union.

But, surprisingly, the response Newsmax got from the State Department regarding the Hagia Sophia decision was watered down and appeared crafted to avoid irking Erdogan.

"We are disappointed by the decision by the Government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told Newsmax. "This building is an important part of the 'Historic Sites of Istanbul' UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of its rich multicultural history."

On the issue of admitting people to the site, Ortagus said "[w]e understand the Turkish government remains committed to maintaining access to the Hagia Sophia for all visitors, and look forward to hearing its plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible without impediment for all."

How this response will sit with President Donald Trump’s strong supporters among the American Christian community is likely to become clearer in the weeks ahead. 

Built to serve as the Byzantine emperors' cathedral, the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia was declared a museum in 1934 by Turkey’s founding father Kemal Ataturk. 

But Erdogan now says Ataturk made "a wrong decision" and that "we are returning it to a mosque again. We are correcting a mistake." He further announced the first prayers at the Hagia Sophia will be held July 24.

The Turkish publication Duvar English reported that on July 13, "AKP [Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party] spokesperson Omer Celik said that mosaics in the ancient structure will be covered by curtains or lasers during times of Muslim prayer."

The Hagia Sophia is one of Turkey’s most-visited sites and, in 2009, then-U.S. President Barack Obama toured the former museum accompanied by Erdogan. 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did nothing less than stun much of Turkey and the non-Muslim world by announcing he was converting Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque for Muslim worship. Erdogan's decision has drawn condemnation from...
Erdogan, Hagia Sophia, Turkey, mosque, museum
356
2020-42-15
Wednesday, 15 July 2020 06:42 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved