Pompeo: Turkey Should Not Turn Hagia Sophia Into a Mosque

In a released statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Turkey to keep Hagia Sophia as a museum. Photo credit: Mark Taylor/Wikimedia Commons

The US has spoken out against the Turkish government for trying to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, while urging the country to continue to maintain the site as a museum.

In a statement released on Wednesday, July 1, by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the politician went more into detail about the country opposing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s proposal to reconvert the UNESCO World Heritage Site back into a mosque.

Pompeo stated that Hagia Sophia has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site for nearly a century, and should be maintained as such by Turkey to show respect to history.

If Turkey were to change the status of the museum, Pompeo wrote that the US would regard the decision as the country trying to diminish the legacy of the remarkable building.

Below is Pompeo’s full statement:

The Status of the Hagia Sophia
07/01/2020 10:55 AM EDT

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The Government of Turkey has administered the Hagia Sophia as a museum – officially recognized by UNESCO as part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul World Heritage Site – in an outstanding manner for nearly a century. We urge the Government of Turkey to continue to maintain the Hagia Sophia as a museum, as an exemplar of its commitment to respect the faith traditions and diverse history that contributed to the Republic of Turkey, and to ensure it remains accessible to all.

This extraordinary site is a testament to religious expression and to artistic and technical genius, reflected in its rich and complex 1,500-year history. Moreover, the site’s status as a museum has allowed people from all over the world to access and reflect upon this magnificent achievement.

The United States views a change in the status of the Hagia Sophia as diminishing the legacy of this remarkable building and its unsurpassed ability—so rare in the modern world—to serve humanity as a much-needed bridge between those of differing faith traditions and cultures. We seek to continue to work with the Government of Turkey on a broad range of issues of mutual interest, including the preservation of religious and cultural sites.

End of statement.

Related: USA Urges Erdogan Not to Turn Hagia Sophia into a Mosque