Changing Istanbul’s sixth century Hagia Sophia again right into a mosque would sow division, the non secular head of the world’s Orthodox Christians warned on Tuesday, forward of a Turkish court docket ruling on a constructing that has been a museum since 1934.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque standing of the UNESCO World Heritage Web site, a constructing on the coronary heart of each Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and at present considered one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
The court docket is ready to rule on July 2 on a problem to its present standing that disputes the legality of its conversion right into a museum in 1934 within the early years of the trendy secular Turkish state based by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“The conversion of Hagia Sophia right into a mosque will disappoint thousands and thousands of Christians all over the world,” stated Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the non secular head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. He’s primarily based in Istanbul.
Hagia Sophia – the foremost church in Christendom for 900 years after which considered one of Islam’s best mosques for 500 years after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, then often called Constantinople, in 1453 – is a crucial middle the place East and West embrace, he advised a church congregation.
Altering its standing will “fracture these two worlds” at a time when mankind wants unity greater than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bartholomew stated.
‘Matter of nationwide sovereignty’
Nevertheless, teams have campaigned for years for Hagia Sophia’s conversion right into a mosque and Erdogan, a pious Muslim, backed their name forward of native elections final yr.
Many Turks argue that mosque standing would higher mirror the id of Turkey as an overwhelmingly Muslim nation, and up to date polls present that the majority Turks help a change.
America and neighboring Greece have each expressed issues in regards to the bid to revive the mosque standing of the constructing, which is understood in Turkish as Ayasofya.
The US spiritual freedom envoy, Ambassador Sam Brownback, stated it holds monumental non secular and cultural significance to billions of believers of various faiths all over the world and known as on Ankara to retain its standing.
Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has criticized worldwide interference. “This can be a matter of nationwide sovereignty,” he stated in a tv interview. “What’s necessary is what the Turkish individuals need.”
Final Replace: Wednesday, 01 July 2020 KSA 01:46 – GMT 22:46