July 11, 2020 - 15:47 AMT
U.S. State Dept. "disappointed" by Hagia Sophia conversion into mosque

The U.S. State Department said Friday, July 10 it is “disappointed” by Turkey’s decision to turn the Hagia Sophia, an Istanbul landmark, into a mosque, The Hill reports.

“We are disappointed by the decision by the Government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. This building is an important part of the ‘Historic Sites of Istanbul’ UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of its rich multicultural history,” said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.

“We 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.”

The rebuke comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday that he would turn the building back into a mosque, fulfilling a longtime promise of his.

The famous landmark, built as a cathedral during the Byzantine Empire, stood as a place of worship for Greek Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics and Muslims for centuries before to being turn into a secular museum in the 1930s.