Turkey converts another former Byzantine-era church into a mosque, draws ire from Greece

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially inaugurated a former Byzantine-era church formerly known as the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, a United Nations World Heritage Site, as a mosque this week, condemning the Greek government.

The change is part of a series of conversions in recent years, including the iconic Hagia Sophia in 2020, and has garnered international criticism.

Located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, near the ancient city walls, the building known locally as Kariye is celebrated for its intricate mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries.

Get Our Latest For Free

Subscribe to receive a daily/weekly email with the best stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Greece has been vocal in its criticism, especially since the Kariye was opened as a mosque the day after Greek Orthodox Easter. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the move in a statement.

“The decision of the Turkish authorities to start the operation of the Monastery of Chora as an Islamic mosque constitutes a provocation for the international community because it distorts and affects its character as a UNESCO World Heritage Site belonging to humanity,” says the statement.

“The preservation of the universal character of monuments and compliance with international standards for the protection of religious and cultural heritage is a clear international obligation binding on all States.”

Originally built by Constantine the Great in the early fourth century, the Holy Savior Church was converted into the Kariye Mosque about 50 years after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.

The Turkish government designated the building a museum in 1945. The museum opened for public display in 1958 after American art historians helped restore the original church's mosaics.

This week's inauguration, carried out by Erdogan far from Ankara, coincided with the opening of several other recently restored structures, The Associated Press reported, adding that its formal conversion was announced in 2020.

“May it bring good luck,” Erdogan declared during the nationally broadcast event. The ceremony included prayers from local devotees.

The General Director of Foundations in Turkey organized the opening ceremony, which saw a large participation of community members and presented a speech by the mufti of Istanbul, Safi Arpaguş, Catholic News Agency. noted.

In 2020, Erdogan and hundreds of worshipers attended the first Islamic prayers in 86 years at Hagia Sophia, which has been redesigned as a mosque amid widespread international disapproval.

The conversions are seen as strategic moves to consolidate the conservative and religious base of Erdogan's ruling party during an economic downturn.

The US Department of State has also expressed concern, urging Turkey to respect the “diverse histories” of such heritage sites.

“We are aware that the Chora Museum, a World Heritage Site, has been reopened as a mosque, and we are referring you to the Turkish government for further details,” a State Department spokesman told the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency. , according to to Ekathimerini. “We urge the Turkish government to preserve and ensure access to sites and buildings that have housed different religious communities in a way that respects their diverse histories.”

Source: www.christianpost.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *