(Adds more reaction)
July 10 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship on Friday after a court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.
Below are some reactions to the court’s ruling and Erdogan’s announcement.
“It is a real shame that the concerns of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Orthodox churches were not heard. This decision, alas, is not aimed at reconciling existing differences, but on the contrary, may lead to even greater divisions, as Patriarch Kirill said in his statement on July 6,” Vladimir Legoida, a Russian Orthodox Church official, was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
“Today’s decision, which came as a result of the political will of President Erdogan, is an open provocation to the civilized world which recognises the unique value and ecumenical nature of the monument,” Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a written statement.
SONER CAGAPTAY, DIRECTOR OF TURKISH RESEARCH PROGRAM AT WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY
“Erdogan has been flooding Turkey’s public space, education policy and government with a brand of conservative Islam, and Hagia Sophia is the crowning moment of Erdogan’s religious revolution which has been unfolding in Turkey for over a decade.
“Just as Ataturk nearly 100 years ago ‘unmosqued’ Hagia Sophia to underline commitment to his own secularist revolution, to take religion out of politics, Erdogan is now doing nearly the opposite. He is reconverting the building into a mosque to underline his own religious revolution.”
Compiled by Timothy Heritage and Gareth Jones Editing by Janet Lawrence