19:47 GMT05 August 2020
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    ATHENS (Sputnik) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is using religion as a means to achieve his geopolitical goals by converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, said in a statement that was distributed by domestic media on Sunday.

    "The transformation of religion into an instrument for achieving party, geopolitical, and geostrategic goals only characterises the person who uses it to do so. Provocation and insults apply not only to the Orthodox Church and Christianity but also to all civilised humanity, every sentient being, regardless of religion", Archbishop Ieronymos said, as quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency.

    Turkey's highest administrative court on Friday annulled a 1934 decree, which initially made the Hagia Sophia into a museum. This decision means that the site can now be used as a mosque, and a presidential decree was signed opening the Hagia Sophia for Muslim prayers.

    President Erdogan said on Saturday that the decision will help continue to build a strong and mighty Turkey.

    The ruling to convert the site in Istanbul into a mosque has been met with strong criticism from religious and political leaders across the world. The Russian Orthodox Church and the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis have expressed their regret at the decision.

    Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey, Greece
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