HAGIA SOPHIA UNESCO’S DEEP REGRET
The United Nation’s cultural agency UNESCO voiced deep regret over Turkey’s decision to convert the iconic sixth century monument Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The century old museum reflects the universal symbol of heritage and UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site. Hagia Sophia stands the Turkey’s most visited tourist attractions and it was built in 537 AD during the reign of Roman emperor. It is considered the epitome of Byzentine architecture.
Originally it was a Christian basilica and was converted into a mosque in 1453 by the Ottomans by conquering Constantinople, now known as Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey closed down the mosque in 1930 and reopened it as a museum, a secular symbol to the whole world. But unfortunately it was after long years that Turkey under the influence of the fundamentalists decided to turn the most visited tourist heritage monument into a working mosque in Istanbul. The symbol of secularism and world heritage is no more now. The decision of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again a major threat to the secular values that are already under attack. He has rewritten the Constitution into a powerful presidency and curtailed freedom of press and launched a war against journalists and critics in the state. During last year local elections, his political party lost its popularity and the decision taken on this historical monument will definitely worsen the secular fabric and international relations.
The world Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s heritage status soon.