Palestine

Israeli group burns Turkish flag over Hagia Sophia move

JERUSALEM

A group of nine Israelis on Monday burned a Turkish flag in front of Turkey’s Consulate in occupied East Jerusalem to protest Turkey’s decision to turn Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.

The group, calling itself the Jerusalem Initiative, is made up of Christians and Jews and includes at least one person from the Israeli army, Elias Zarina, the group’s head, told Anadolu Agency.

Zarina also called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support and protect Christians around the world.

Group members waved flags of Greece and the Byzantine Empire and hung banners with anti-Turkish slogans outside the consulate.

Israeli police detained the person who burned the Turkish flag.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after an 85-year hiatus. Before that it had been a mosque for nearly 500 years.

Turkey rejects outside attempts to interfere in its decision on Hagia Sophia, saying they seek to harm its sovereignty.

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