Former Istanbul Orthodox church becomes a mosque in Turkey

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Former Istanbul Orthodox church becomes a mosque in TurkeyTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan orders the ancient Orthodox Church, Kariye museum, to be transformed into a mosque.

On Friday Turkey’s President, Tayyip Erdogan, ordered Istanbul’s Kariye Museum to be turned into a Muslim place of worship.

The decision to transform the museum into a mosque comes just one month after a similar conversion of the UNESCO World-Heritage recognised Hagia Sofia.

During his Sunday Angelus on 12 July, Pope Francis expressed his sadness following President Erdogan’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque. “I think of Hagia Sophia and I am very saddened”, he said.

The decree on the issue regarding the Kariye Museum was published in Turkey's official gazette on Friday.

Kariye Museum

The 1,000-year-old building was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.

The Kariye Mosque then became the Kariye Museum after World War II as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic after the rule of the Ottoman Empire.

The church’s mosaics were then restored with the help of a group of American art historians, opening for public display in 1958.

Turkey's top administrative court approved the museum's conversion into a mosque in November.