In his speech on the first day of the Sacrifice Feast, the chief priest Mustafa Akgul asked for the neighboring Hagia Sophia to operate as a mosque in the days of the nationally celebrated holiday Bayram. “Those days Sultan Ahmed Mosque is flooded with believers but we cannot use Hagia Sophia. It should be allowed by the authorities of Hagia Sophia to operate as a mosque,” he said.
The building of Hagia Sophia was a mosque from the 29th of May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on the 1st of February 1935. Up until today, Hagia Sophia is open as a museum.
The archpriest’s speech has provoked intense reactions and concern for the Turkish public, who consider this as a shift away from the secular character of the modern Turkish state.