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Turkey: Orthodox Christians seek reversal of Hagia Sophia conversion

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the full statement of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is here. The Turkish government’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia to a mosque was not a courageous act, but a deeply ill-advised act of memoricide that ignores Turkey’s rich Christian history and further threatens the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of that land. It was undertaken in defiance of the United States, Russia, France, Greece and many others.

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

“Orthodox Christians in Turkey seek reversal of Hagia Sophia conversion,” Ahval News, November 9, 2020:

A group of Turkish Orthodox Christians took legal action against the reconversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia to a mosque, saying that minority rights of Orthodox Greeks in the country were violated, HaberTürk reported on Monday….

The Orthodox Christian group has applied to the Council of State for the cancellation of the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the news website said.

The court’s ruling violates UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which requires states to “ensure the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage”.

The Hagia Sophia spent almost a millennium as an Orthodox cathedral and was converted into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest in 1453. Some of its Christian mosaics and icons were covered in plaster to allow Muslims to worship inside….Now, curtains and folding screens are used to cover the site’s symbols during Muslim prayers.

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