After 86 years, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey has reopened for worship. The decision was made after the Council of State revoked the order from 1934 that turned the former mosque into a museum. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shared the Presidential Decision to transfer management of the Hagia Sophia to the Directorate of Religious Affairs with a message of “good luck”. The decision was published in the Official Gazette on July 10, 2020.
The move has garnered international attention and controversy. President Erdoğan attended rallies ahead of the reopening and ended his election campaign with evening prayers at the Hagia Sophia-i Kebir Mosque. The decision to open the mosque has drawn criticism from secularists who see it as an erosion of the secular nature of the Turkish state and a move towards Islamization.
In the meantime, Turkey is gearing up for the Presidential and 28th General Election to be held on May 14. The polling locations for the candidates have already been announced, including where the leaders will be casting their votes. Voters are being encouraged to arrive early at their polling stations to avoid overcrowding and long waits.
The world will be watching as Turkey faces both political and religious turmoil in the coming days.