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The expert assessed the situation over the status of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

The intention to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is not consistent with the provisions of Islam, respecting the shrines of other religions, said to RIA Novosti, Abbas Schumann, former Deputy head of al-Azhar University, one of the largest and most reputable Islamic universities in the world.

Turkey currently actively discussed the transformation of Hagia Sophia from Museum to mosque. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that waiting for the decision of the state Council on the possibility of changing the status of a Cathedral and will go on depending on him. The Supreme administrative court of Turkey, the state Council considered this matter on 2 July, according to Council members, to change the status of the Cathedral is the presidential decree. It is expected that the Council's decision will be published within 15 days.

"Islam respects the places of worship of different religions. You should not turn the Church into a mosque, just as we should not to turn a mosque into a Church. We should respect the houses of worship of all believers," commented Schumann.

However, he pointed out that there may be exceptions, for example, in the case that the Christian population of the country embraces Islam and turns churches into mosques without jeopardizing anyone's rights.

At the same time, the intention to change the status of Hagia Sophia Schumann described as "provocative behavior, is not consistent with the Islamic doctrine that guided our righteous predecessors, of known respect for the Holy places of others." In his mind, any motives that stand behind the actions of Ankara, whether political considerations or "good intentions" can justify such a step.

"Whatever the purpose of these actions... in fact it is a mistake," he said.

The Hagia Sophia was founded by the Christian Emperor Justinian and inaugurated on 27 December 537. Cathedral over a thousand years was the largest Church in the Christian world. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the Cathedral was transformed into a mosque, but since the mid 30-ies of the last century the building by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk became a Museum and was included in the world heritage list of UNESCO.