Insults targeted at Protestants in Turkey have increased since 2016 but physical crimes have gone down.
A magnificent Byzantine-era cathedral in Turkey which became a mosque in the 15th century and now functions as a museum could be reconverted into an Islamic place of worship, the country's president had said.q
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke about the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul during a live interview aired by the Turkish broadcaster, TGRT on Sunday.
In comments translated by the English newspaper Daily Sabah, he said: "This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque."
Following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, the landmark was turned from a Greek Orthodox church into a mosque in 1453. Islamic features were subsequently added, including several minarets.
Five hundred years later, Turkey's secular founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk transformed the site into a museum in 1935. Attracting millions of tourists every year, it is one of Turkey's most popular tourist attractions.
BREAKING — Erdogan says Hagia Sophia might be re-converted to a mosque from the current museum status after elections so it could be visited free of charge by everyone pic.twitter.com/Sgf2hmQTKn— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) March 24, 2019
Calls for the Turkish government to turn the iconic building back into a mosque have grown during recent years.
The idea returned under the spotlight when reports emerged that the perpetrator of recent mosque shootings in New Zealand left a manifesto saying the Hagia Sophia would be "free of minarets".
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