Turkey’s president has vowed to liberate Al-Aqsa mosque from Israel right after the decision to transform the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque was announced.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments in an Arabic statement after “resurrecting Hagia Sophia” on Friday.
“The resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come…the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the reignition of the fire of hope of Muslims and all oppressed, wrong, downtrodden and exploited,” the Turkish Presidency website said in a Turkish statement.
However, the Arabic translation of the same statement suggests Turkey’s Hagia Sophia move is part of the “return of freedom to Al-Aqsa” from Israel.
A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
On Friday, Erdogan announced Muslim prayers on July 24 at the UNESCO World Heritage site, transforming the iconic landmark from a museum to a mosque after numerous attempts over the years.
Erdogan’s announcement came after the cancellation of a decision under Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to preserve the church-turned-mosque as a museum.