Speaker Şentop regarding the decision to open the Hagia Sophia Mosque for worship, said "With this decision, a longing in our nation, in his heart has ended." 10.07.2020

In a statement he made to the journalists in the Parliament, Speaker Mustafa Şentop reminded that the administration of Hagia Sophia as a mosque was given to the Presidency of Religious Affairs with the decision issued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after the decision of the Council of State.

Stating that the opening of Hagia Sophia to worship is an historical event, Speaker Şentop said:

"Hagia Sophia has always taken place as a structure that should be opened as a mosque in the ideals of our generation and many generations before us. It was a goal, an ideal and a dream. 'Let the chains break, open Hagia Sophia.' was one of the most important slogans of our youth and the generations before us. Our President, who was one of the youth leaders of those times, also made great efforts in this regard. It is also meaningful that this was done during his Presidency.”

Stating that the decision of the Council of State includes evaluations in terms of domestic law and international law, Parliament Speaker Şentop said that Hagia Sophia was a mosque in the endowment of a foundation established by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in terms of domestic law.

Underlining that the provision of using Hagia Sophia as a mosque in the endowment, Şentop continued as follows:

“Mosques such as Sultanahmet and Suleymaniye have their own endowments. The purpose of use is also specified in the foundation. It is not correct to change this purpose stated in the endowment.  Likewise, while under the rule of the British, domestic legal arrangements were made for the use of the foundation works there for their assigned purposes in Cyprus. In this regard, the adoption of the principles set by the foundation by the laws of the states is the basic rule accepted all over the world. There is an evaluation in terms of international law, especially as it is a structure that is included in the world cultural heritage. Although there are few numbers on this subject, some countries have statements. The work included in that world cultural heritage is not only Hagia Sophia. For example, there are Sultanahmet, Süleymaniye, Şehzade Mosques. So a building does not have to be a museum to be included in the world cultural heritage. There are mosques included in this heritage.

What is meant here is a valuable work for all humanity. It does not mean that the purpose of use will be determined according to international conventions. As a matter of fact, there are provisions in this contract that the sovereign rights of countries will be respected and that these proceedings will be carried out according to the regulations in the domestic law. According to international conventions Turkey has the authority to decide on how to use it. There is also no need to write a contract. No country leaves it to the initiative of an international structure, an organization, or a contract to use a structure within its territory. There is no problem in this regard either.”

Mustafa Şentop said that Hagia Sophia is important in many ways, especially the conquest of Istanbul.

Reminding that the poet Sezai Karakoç has a metaphysical approach, Şentop continued as follows:

“By establishing a relationship between the date of opening of Hagia Sophia, the date of opening to worship and the birth date of the Prophet Aleyhisselam there is an approach that a new religion brought by the Prophet of Islam is simultaneously opened to worship and has a metaphysical contact with it. This understanding has been shared by many thinkers from Sultan Mehmet the conqueror of Istanbul to the present day. In the heart of our nation, there was a desire and a decision to use Hagia Sophia as a mosque. Our courts also decided on behalf of the Turkish nation. The decision of the 10th Chamber of the Council of State starts as 'on behalf of the Turkish nation'. Therefore, with this decision, a longing in the hearts of our nation for a long time has ended. I wish that it would be good for our nation. "

Sentop, answered the question of a journalist, "When will you go to pray?" as "As soon as possible. Probably the preparations will end soon. Probably in the next week."

As to the question of a journalist whether the name Hagia Sophia would change or not after it is opened for worship, Şentop replied “No. It has been used for many years as “Hagia Sophia Mosque” since 1453. There is no unrest with these names in our culture. "

Expressing that there are paintings and engravings in Hagia Sophia and they are not broken said, "There is continuity and integrity in our understanding. If there was something like breaking and destroying the elements of the previous cultures like those mosques in Spain and Portugal, as it was destroyed in many places in Europe, we would not have any work left in Turkey"

Şentop stated that Hagia Sophia was used and protected as a mosque for many years before it became a museum.