Orthodox Christians in Turkey seek reversal of Hagia Sophia conversion

A group of Turkish Orthodox Christians took legal action against the reconversion of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to a mosque, saying that minority rights of Orthodox Greeks in the country were violated, HaberTürk reported on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Hagia Sophia a mosque on June 10, after the country's top administrative court, the Council of State, annulled the 6th-century historical site’s conversion to a museum in 1934.

The Orthodox Christian group has applied to the Council of State for the cancellation of the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the news website said.

The court’s ruling violates UNESCO's Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which requires states to “ensure the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage".

The Hagia Sophia spent almost a millennium as an Orthodox cathedral and was converted into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest in 1453. Some of its Christian mosaics and icons were covered in plaster to allow Muslims to worship inside. Islam does not allow any images to be present during prayers. Now, curtains and folding screens are used to cover the site’s symbols during Muslim prayers.

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