(AL-MONITOR) Discussions of converting Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque have percolated for years in Turkish politics. And following a brief hearing Thursday, a Turkish court is preparing to issue a verdict on the matter within 15 days.
The sixth-century structure was originally built as a cathedral and converted into a mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, today known as Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia was later changed into a museum in a 1934 decision that came about a decade after the founding of the Republic of Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Since then, the structure’s status has been the subject of political debate, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly voicing intentions to convert the Ayasofya, as it’s known in Turkish, into a site for Muslim worship in recent decades.
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