Istanbul – Turkish President Recep Erdogan, has issued a decree to reconvert into a mosque, a 6th century church-turned-museum in Istanbul, a few kilometres from the famous Hagia Sophia that was opened to Muslim prayers in July.
A presidential decree published on the official gazette, orders the Chora Museum to be opened for Islamic prayers.
According to the decree, similar to Hagia Sophia, the building will be handed over to Turkey’s religious authority Diyanet.
The building, also known as the Church of the Holy Saviour and famous for its well preserved mosaics and paintings, was turned into an Ottoman Mosque in the 16th century; Turkish state declared it a museum in 1945.
In November 2019, Turkey’s top administrative court annulled the 1945 decision, paving the way for its conversion into a mosque.
Both Hagia Sophia, which was built as a Christian church in the 6th century and subsequently became a mosque, a museum and, in July, a mosque again, and Chora are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
In July, the U.S., the EU, Russia, UNESCO and various church leaders expressed concern at the change in status of Hagia Sophia, a cultural landmark for both Christians and Muslims.
Erdogan had rejected criticism as interference in Turkey’s sovereignty rights.
However, it was not immediately clear when the Chora would open to prayers.