Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Politics • Middle Eastern
Erdogan signs decree converting Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into mosque
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Credit: Igor Vita (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, ruled Friday that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia could be converted into a mosque. After the decision President Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree handing control of Hagia Sophia to the country’s religious directorate and to reopen it for worship.

Hagia Sophia was the Byzantine Empire’s main cathedral until it was changed into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, then turned the domed building into a museum that attracts millions of tourists each year.