Criticisms have increased after Turkish government reverted Hagia Sophia back to mosque. While some foreign media see the decision as a disrespect to religious minorities and their worshipping places, Turkish side refutes claims. President Erdogan stated in a TV speech that changing Hagia Sophia’s status is a matter of sovereignty that doesn’t concern foreigners. He added that Hagia Sophia was converted to a museum with a governmental decree and now it is reconverted to a museum with another one.
Turkish analysts also joined the debate and declined that the decision was abusing religious freedom. They mainly criticized Greece for its opposition. Ahmet Hamdi Şişman, a Turkish journalist, said “It is weird that Greece is complaining about the conversion of Hagia Sophia. Wasn’t it Greece that destroyed all mosques built by Ottoman Empire? There is no single mosque in Athens currently, so they are the last to talk about religious freedom”.
Another analyst Mehmet Yılmaz stated that “Hagia Sophia belongs to Turkey since 1453. If Greeks or any other foreign country claim right on Hagia Sophia, they can do it on whole Istanbul. Should we give back Istanbul to Byzantine? Also, who are Byzantines? Greeks argue to be grandsons of Byzantine empire but it is not true”. Yılmaz also criticized American politicians for supporting moving US Embassy to Al-Kuds and remaining silent about Israel’s annexation plan of West Bank. Yılmaz said If Americans are honest in their words, they should have opposed Israel’s atrocities but they don’t. I call them not to be so hypocritical against Turkey”.