In an address to the nation, Erdogan stressed that Hagia Sophia’s doors will be open for Turks, foreigners, Muslims, and non-Muslims as is the case with all other mosques.
“I invite everyone to respect decisions taken by judicial and executive bodies of my country on Hagia Sophia,” he added, stressing that how the historical complex would be of use was a matter of national sovereignty.
Turkey welcomes all views on the issue, said Erdogan referring to the new status of Hagia Sophia, but also added that any attitude or expression beyond that would be considered a “violation” of Turkey’s “independence”.
He also announced that visitors would be able to visit the historical gem without paying any fees.
Earlier on July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree, which turned Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a museum, and this move paved the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.
Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, and turned into a mosque following its conquest of Istanbul in 1453. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum.