ANKARA 

Turkey on Tuesday strongly condemned the burning of a Turkish flag in front of the Turkish Consulate in the occupied East Jerusalem.

“We strongly condemn the burning of our flag during a demonstration in front of the Consulate General of Jerusalem on July 13, 2020,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Nobody can disrespect or encroach our glorious flag. We expect the perpetrators of this abusive action to be brought to the justice and sentenced to the punishment they deserve,” the statement added.

A group of nine Israelis on Monday burned the Turkish flag in front of Turkey’s Consulate in the occupied East Jerusalem to protest Turkey’s decision to turn Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

The group, calling itself the Jerusalem Initiative, comprises Christians, Jews, and at least one person from the Israeli army, group’s head Elias Zarina told Anadolu Agency.

Zarina also called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support and protect Christians around the world.

Group members waved flags of Greece and the Byzantine Empire and hung banners with anti-Turkish slogans outside the consulate.

Israeli police detained the person who burned the Turkish flag.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after an 85-year hiatus. Before that, it had been a mosque for nearly 500 years.

Turkey rejects outside attempts to interfere in its decision on Hagia Sophia, saying they seek to harm the country’s sovereignty.

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