One Big Thing: Does changing the Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque limit religious freedom in Turkey?
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What is it?
- On July 10th, Turkish President Erodgan signed a decree which switched the Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.
- This reverses the 1934 decree, which made the Hagia Sophia into a museum, under the rule of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
- Hagia Sophia is now open to Muslisms and non-Muslims for prayer
Why is it important?
- The Hagia Sophia carries an important and complex historical and religious significance for Muslisms and Christians. In the Byzantine empire, it was a cathedral for Christians and there are still remnants of Christian icons in this monument. The cathedral was later converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
- Turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque was widely criticized by global and religious leaders and organizations, such as UNESCO and Pope Francis.
- This move also made Hagia Sophia a non-secular monument, catering to Turkey’s Muslisms over it’s other religious minorities.
What can you do?
- Learn more about the Hagia Sophia’s history
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