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Turkey: After Hagia Sophia, historic Chora church also switched to mosque

The conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, followed closely by this conversion of the historic Chora church also, significantly worsens this situation of Turkey’s Christians. Both conversions demonstrate yet again the Turkish government’s contempt for the nation’s rich Christian heritage. However, as bleak as the news is now, we are called upon not to lose hope, and to persevere. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America stated this after the conversion of Hagia Sophia, and it is all the more urgent now: “We must arise, beloved Christians. We must arise and speak out for the silent stones of Ἁγία Σοφία. We must go to our Christian neighbors and friends here in this free land of America, and ask for their prayers and their help. We must arise and speak to our elected leaders and demand that they act in conscience and righteousness to protest by every means possible this defiance of the modern sensibility which respects not only diversity, but the status quo that allows for the peaceful and harmonious cohabitation of nations, religions, races, and ethnicities.”

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“After Hagia Sophia, Turkey’s historic Chora church also switched to mosque,” Reuters, August 21, 2020:

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reconverted the historic Chora church, one of Istanbul’s most celebrated Byzantine buildings, into a mosque on Friday, a month after opening the famed Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship.

The mediaeval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, built near the ancient city walls of Constantinople, contains 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes showing scenes from biblical stories.

They were plastered over after the city was conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, but brought to light again when – like Hagia Sophia – the building was converted to a museum by Turkey’s secular republic more than 70 years ago.

Erdogan, whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam, has positioned himself as a champion of Turkey’s pious Muslims and last month joined tens of thousands of worshippers in the first prayers at Hagia Sophia in 86 years….

Last year a Turkish court annulled a 1945 government decision converting Chora – known as Kariye in Turkish – into a museum run by the Education Ministry.

On Friday, an edict signed by Erdogan and published in Turkey’s official gazette declared “the management of the Kariye Mosque be transferred to the Religious Affairs Directorate, and (the mosque) opened to worship.”

A church was first built at the site in the 4th century, but most of the existing building dates to an 11th century church that was partly rebuilt 200 years later following an earthquake….

At Hagia Sophia, curtains have been drawn in front of an image facing worshippers of Mary and the infant Jesus.

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