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Turkey: Islamic leader calls for prayer at the Hagia Sophia to show “that Turkey is not the old Turkey”

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, urgently requests that Turkish President Erdogan reject this request from the Diyanet.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is known throughout the world as the Great Church of Christ. Built in the sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia was for nearly a thousand years the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the center of the Orthodox Faith, and the world’s most magnificent cathedral. Following the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it was converted to a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II, and became a museum in 1935.

On March 24, 2019, Erdogan was asked in an interview whether the Hagia Sophia would be converted to a mosque. He replied: “This is not unlikely. We might even change its name to Ayasofya Mosque.”

The Order once again urgently requests that the United Nations and the U.S. State Department and Commission on Religious Freedom act to prevent the conversion of the building into a mosque, given the Hagia Sophia’s importance for Christians and the deleterious effect this change would have upon Turkey’s embattled Christian minority. Converting the Hagia Sophia to a mosque would further undermine the position of the Christians of that nation, making their situation all the more precarious. We ask instead that the government of Turkey affirm its commitment to religious freedom and discard all plans to change the status of the Hagia Sophia.

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

“Islamic clergy call for prayer at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople to appease the coronavirus,” Orthodox Times, May 4, 2020:

The chairman of the Religious and Foundation Employees’ Union (Diyanet Bir-Sen), Hasan Türüt, has called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to allow a Muslim prayer to be performed in Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, following the lifting of the ban due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Turkish media reports, Türüt said that the first Friday after the coronavirus pandemic the Muslim prayer should be performed in Hagia Sophia, as Mehmed the Conqueror did on the first Friday after the Fall of Constantinople.

“Hagia Sophia is the means to bring about the resurrection of the world. We must all show together – with the first prayer in Hagia Sophia – that Turkey is not the old Turkey,” highlighted Bir-Sen Chairman, saying that nothing would be the same in the post-coronavirus world….

“When Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453, the first Friday after the Fall he prayed in Hagia Sophia, turning it into a mosque after 916 years. Mehmed II, according to some Ottoman writings, is said to have said:

‘May the curse of Allah, the angels and all human beings be upon anyone who changes even one of the conditions governing this foundation!’ May they be in a constant and endless struggle! May no one will be found to look them in the face or ask Allah to forgive them!” “Let us no longer suffer the curse of Allah and our ancestor Mehmed. It is necessary for the honorable president of our country and his competent officials, who are trying to magnify Muslim Turkey and Islam, to take these seriously,” Türüt concluded…

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