Turkey’s Erdogan opens former church to Muslim worshippers

Turkey has reopened a mosque converted from an ancient Orthodox church in Istanbul for Muslim worship four years after the president ordered its transformation.

The Kariye Mosque was formerly a Byzantine church, then a mosque, and then a museum.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on May 6 that the Kariye Mosque was reopened for worship remotely during a ceremony at the presidential palace in the capital, Ankara.

He had, in 2020, ordered the building to be reconverted into a Muslim place of worship.

His order followed a similarly controversial ruling on the UNESCO-protected Hagia Sophia – a cathedral in Istanbul that was converted into a mosque and then a museum before becoming a mosque again.

The changes were part of Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters.

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