BEIRUT

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has welcomed the Turkish court verdict directing the opening of Hagia Sophia as a mosque.  

“Opening of Hagia Sophia to prayer is a proud moment for all Muslims,” said Rafat Murra, head of international press office of Hamas, in a written statement. 

Murra stressed that the decision created “sadness” in certain groups in the Arab world. 

“We have never seen them worry about Masjid al-Aqsa. We have not seen them get sad when the Zionists attack Dome of the Rock. When the occupiers’ banned call to prayer in Al-Halil Masjid or Palestinian masjid. They did not care,” he said. 

Murra said that the decision falls under Turkey’s sovereignty rights. 

This move shows Turkey’s self-confidence, and its place in the international arena, he added. 

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 cabinet decree, which had turned Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a museum. 

This verdict by the court paved the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years. 

The court ruled that the architectural gem was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque — a status that cannot be legally changed. 

Hagia Sophia was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It was turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. 

President Erdogan said the historical complex will be ready for worship by July 24 for Friday prayer.

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