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World News

Turkey's Hagia Sophia 'could become a mosque'

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.

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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