Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) introduced Senate Resolution 90 requesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reinstate Hagia Sophia as a museum, and declare it a place of worship for all faiths. California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis is joining Senator Borgeas in this request.
The Hagia Sophia Cathedral was completed in 537 A.D. and remained a place of worship for Christians for nearly 1,000 years. In 1934 the Republic of Turkey converted Hagia Sophia from a mosque into a museum, honoring it as a significant cultural and religious monument for all of humanity.
"As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hagia Sophia has stood as a symbol for people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds," said Senator Borgeas. "The move to reclassify Hagia Sophia as a mosque is highly provocative to Christians, and further destabilizes Christian-Muslim relations."
The Resolution provides in part:
"[T]he Senate regrets the actions of President Erdogan to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum ... into a mosque; ..., [calling] upon the President and the Congress of the United States ... to urge [Turkey] to reinstate Hagia Sophia as a museum or, alternatively, reclassify Hagia Sophia as a house of worship where people of different faiths are encouraged to congregate, equitably available on specific days of the week and for respective events of religious significance."
Lt. Governor Kounalakis also "...[U]rges the Republic of Turkey to reconsider its decision and acknowledge that, as stewards of one of the world's most important religious monuments, it has the unique honor to preserve Hagia Sophia for all peoples, cultures, and the religions that hold it sacred."
Passage of this resolution will demonstrate that the California Senate recognizes and respects the historical value of Hagia Sophia and its importance to the people of all faiths.
The full text of the resolution can be read here. Due to COVID-19's impact on the legislative calendar, a vote on the Senate Resolution will be delayed.