Joining an international chorus of condemnation against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, U.S. Presidential Candidate Joe Biden issued a strong statement calling on the Turkish president to reverse his decision.
“The Hagia Sophia is an architectural marvel and a treasured holy site for people of many faiths,” Biden said. “For the last 85 years the Hagia Sophia has been a museum, allowing people from around the world to visit, admire and pray in this holy space, which since 1985 has also had the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
The former vice president added that he “deeply regrets” the Turkish government’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque and urged Erdogan to reverse his decision and keep the “treasured place” as a museum which would ensure “equal status for all.”
Biden shared the official statement from his Biden for President social media accounts and press office.
On July 10, Turkey’s Council of State — the highest administrative court in the country – paved the way for Hagia Sophia’s conversion back into mosque despite international warnings against such a move.
Shortly after the court’s decision, Erdogan handed over the iconic structure’s control to the country’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
In a televised address to his nation on July 10, the Turkish president said first Muslim prayers at Hagia Sophia will be held on July 24.
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