July 10 (UPI) -- Turkey's top administrative court on Friday struck down a 1934 decree that converted the historic Hagia Sophia from a mosque into a museum, in a move supported by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but opposed by the United States.
Erdogan had promised that Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul, would be turned back into a mosque. Opponents, led by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said it should remain a museum with access to everyone.
Friday, the Turkish court agreed with Erdogan's argument in favor of restoring the mosque.
The Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church when it was built in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine Empire. In 1453, it was converted into an imperial mosque during the Ottoman Empire and remained one until the decree in the 1930s during Turkey's secular single-party rule.
Pompeo said in January the museum was "an exemplar of [Turkey's] commitment to respect the faith traditions and diverse history that contributed to the Republic of Turkey and to ensure it remains accessible to all."
Nikos Christodoulides, Cyprus's minister of foreign affairs, criticized the Turkish court's decision.
"Turkey's escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith," Christodoulides tweeted.
"Cyprus strongly condemns Turkey's actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion, and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations."
"The issue of Hagia Sophia's statute is an internal affair of Turkey and its right of sovereignty," Cengiz Tomar, rector of Ahmet Yesevi University, added.