Turkish decision on Hagia Sophia angers Athens


The Foreign Ministry in Athens has protested a decision by Turkish authorities to allow a daily reading from the Quran to be broadcast from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

In a statement Monday, the ministry condemned the decision, describing it as “verging on bigotry” and “not compatible with modern, democratic and secular societies.”

“Muslim rituals in a monument of world cultural heritage are incomprehensible and reveal a lack of respect for and connection with reality,” the statement said.

Built as a Christian basilica in the 6th century, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman army in 1453. The building was converted into a museum in 1953 on the orders of the country’s secular leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Last month, thousands of Muslim worshippers gathered around Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1985, demanding the right to pray there.