16:51 GMT24 January 2021
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    ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he planned to turn landmark Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox cathedral in Istanbul, into a mosque after this month’s elections in response to the US policy shift on the Golan Heights.

    "After municipal elections, it [temple] will be converted back into a mosque from a museum. As US president Trump declares Jerusalem the capital of Israel and the Golan Heights an Israeli territory, Turkey will give an adequate response as the rotating chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation", Erdogan said while aired on television.

    The statement comes after US President Donald Trump said last week it was time to recognise the Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, an Israeli-occupied strip of land in Syria.

    READ MORE: EU Still Refuses to Recognise Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

    He signed a declaration to this effect on 25 March.

    The temple was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of the Byzantine Empire. It was converted into a museum by Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1934 and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985. Greece has condemned Erdogan’s plans for the former cathedral as a sign of disrespect.


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    mosque, Hagia Sophia, Donald Trump, Turkey, Syria, Golan Heights
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