The Turkish Central Administrative Court overturned the 1934 decree, which secularized one of Istanbul’s most important landmarks, Hagia Sophia, and opened the door to conversion to a mosque, as defended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The State Council therefore admits that the arguments of an association that wanted to repeal the decree because it was illegal, according to the Anatolian authority. Conservative Muslims have claimed that this building, which was built in the 6th century as an Orthodox basilica and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is again a mosque.
UNESCO spoke about the controversy for the first time this Friday to remember that Hagia Sophia was added to its list of cultural heritage as a museum and that this is linked to “commitments and obligations”, if left to each state to determine that there is no “no change” in its monuments.
If available, the country should contact UNESCO and, if necessary, accept a review by the committee that reviews these cultural assets. In this sense, he emphasized that Hagia Sophia “has a strong symbolic, historical and universal value”.
The agency has stated that it has shared all of its concerns in “various letters” with the Turkish authorities, which is why it has asked them to engage in a dialogue “before making a decision that could affect the universal value of the place”.