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Source: Agenzia Fides – MIL OSI

Headline: ASIA/TURKEY – The Council of State puts the future of Ayasofya in the hands of Erdogan

Istanbul – The current status of Ayasofya as a museum complex not used for religious worship fully corresponds to the current legal framework, founded on the decision of 1934 with which the Turkish government at the time turned the ancient Christian basilica into a museum which was used as a mosque. To change this state of affairs, a presidential decree is sufficient to declare the provisions on Ayasofya in force for less than 86 years has expired. This is a summary of the sense of the expected pronouncement, on Thursday 2 July, by the Turkish Council of State on the possibility – strongly sponsored by political sectors today dominant in Turkey – to reuse Ayasofya as an Islamic place of worship. The session of the Council of State called to express itself on this delicate and thorny affair with a strong geopolitical impact – local sources report to Agenzia Fides – lasted less than half an hour, and seems to leave in fact in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the responsibility to change the current status quo, converting Ayasofya back to a mosque. The members of the Council of State, in their brief session, confirmed the persisting validity of the previous pronouncement with which the same body had already rejected the appealpresented in 2004 by the so-called “Turkish Union of Historical Monuments” to ask to open Ayasofya to gatherings of Muslim prayers. At the same time, the Council of State acknowledged that a direct intervention by Erdogan on the controversial issue, through an ad hoc presidential decree, can change the current state of affairs and legitimize the reuse of Ayasofya as an Islamic place of worship. It will take at least fifteen days for the publication of the pronouncement of the Turkish Council of State and its reasons.

MIL OSI Europe News