France says Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia must remain open to all

France’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the sixth-century Hagia Sophia museum originally built as a Christian cathedral in Istanbul must remain open to all, Reuters reports.

A Turkish court on Thursday heard a petition seeking to convert the Hagia Sophia, one of Turkey’s most visited and beloved tourist sites, back into a mosque.

“A symbol of tolerance and diversity, this place must remain open to all,” a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was at the core of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires, and is today one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.

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