France latest side to condemn talks of converting Hagia Sophia back into a mosque

Turkish riot police stand guard during a demonstration outside the Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia. (File Photo: AFP)

France's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the sixth-century Hagia Sophia museum originally built as a Christian cathedral in Istanbul must remain open to all.

A Turkish court on Thursday heard a petition seeking to convert the Hagia Sophia, one of Turkey's most visited and beloved tourist sites, back into a mosque.

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"A symbol of tolerance and diversity, this place must remain open to all," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

France's appeal comes after the spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians warned that converting Istanbul’s sixth century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque would sow division.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

The Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was at the core of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman
empires, and is today one of Turkey's most visited monuments.

Read more:

Erdogan says Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia could be turned into mosque

Muslims in Turkey demand right to pray at Hagia Sophia

Last Update: Friday, 03 July 2020 KSA 01:21 - GMT 22:21