Erdogan: ‘Turkey’s churches and synagogues outnumber mosques in any European country’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that the number of churches and synagogues in Turkey is twice the number of mosques in any European country.

This came in a speech after he chaired a government meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara on Tuesday, where he pledged to preserve the World Heritage Site status of the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul while opening it to worshipers again.

Erdogan noted that it was the Turkish authorities who turned the Hagia Sophia mosque into a museum, adding: “We are transforming it back to a mosque.”

He emphasised that the World Heritage Site status of Hagia Sophia would be preserved “in the same way our ancestors did,” while turning the building into a mosque as it used to be in the past.

Erdogan touched on Western criticism of this decision, pointing out that non-Muslims worship sites in Turkey exceed four or five times the number of mosques in Europe.

He explained that there is a place of worship for every 460 non-Muslims in Turkey, compared to one mosque for every 2,000 Muslims in Europe.

On Friday, the Turkish Council of State overturned the cabinet decision of 24 November, 1934, to transform the Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum.

On Sunday, Head of Religious affairs Ali Arbash announced during his visit to Hagia Sophia that the five daily prayers will be held in the mosque regularly, starting from 24 July.

Hagia Sophia is a unique artistic and architectural monument, located in the Sultanahmet district of ​​Istanbul, which was used for 481 years as a mosque, then turned into a museum in 1934. It is one of the most significant architectural monuments in the history of the Middle East.

Source: Middle East Monitor


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