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


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.