The leader of Greek Orthodoxy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has warned that if Turkey persists with plans to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque, this will turn millions of Christians against Islam. The warning comes two days before Turkey’s top court will rule on the issue.
“The potential conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will turn millions of Christians around the world against Islam,” Bartholomew warned.
“We hope that wisdom and reason ultimately prevail,” he added.
Bartholomew also called on the people of Turkey to champion the monument’s universal character, underlining that as a museum, Hagia Sophia brings together people and cultures from all over the world and religious beliefs.
“It is a symbol of meeting, solidarity and mutual understanding,” he said and stressed that “it cannot be reason of conflict between two folks.”
“This church should not be reason of conflict between two folks,” he stressed.
The Ecumenical Patriarch recalled that they had sent already in 2010 a letter to the Department of Religious Affairs in Ankara, in which “we expressed our concerns about the change of the status.”
Unity is at stake. We “We expect that prudence and logic will prevail in the end,” he said.
Turkey’s Council of State will decide on the status of Hagia Sophia and whether it can be converted into a mosque on July 2, 2020.
The country’s highest court will examine the request for annulment of the presidential decree by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, that turned the Hagia Sophia from a mosque into a museum in 1934.
The iconic Byzantine Basilica was the seat of the leader of the Greek Orthodoxy until 1453 when the Byzantines were defeated by the Ottomans who converted the church into a mosque.
More on Hagia Sophia and Erdogan’s efforts to convert it into a mosque here.