US envoy for religious freedom calls on Turkey to keep Hagia Sophia as museum

TAGS: US, Turkey, Diplomacy, Culture

The United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on Thursday urged Turkey to abandon plans to reconvert the 6th century monument of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

“The Hagia Sophia holds enormous spiritual & cultural significance to billions of believers of different faiths around the world,” Brownback said in a tweet on Thursday.

“We call on the Govt of Turkey to maintain it as a UNESCO World Heritage site & to maintain accessibility to all in its current status as a museum,” the ambassador added.

His tweet comes after Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni sent a letter to representatives of UNESCO’s member-states informing them of Ankara’s plans to turn the monument into a mosque even though it has been a museum since the 1930s.