Court Decision Annulling Cabinet Decision of 1934 Converting Hagia Sophia into a Mosque

In its unanimous decision, the 10th Chamber of the Council of State, the highest administrative law court of the country, annulled the Cabinet Decision of 1934 converting the Hagia Sophia from a mosque into a museum. The Court reasoned as follows: the companion law to Turkey's secular Civil Code had provided that the old (Islamic) law would apply to waqfs (endowments) established before the new Civil Code came into force. The Hagia Sophia was a mosque, the Court found, that constituted part of Fatih Sultan Mehmed's (aka Mehmed the Conqueror) waqf, and under the applicable law at the time, it was forbidden to alter the status of waqf property via administrative decisions. The Court therefore ruled that the Cabinet Decision of 1934 had unlawfully changed the status of waqf property. The Court struck down the Cabinet Decision of 1934, thus paving the way for restoring Hagia Sophia's status as a mosque for worship.

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