Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has invited the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis to visit Hagia Sophia, following the decision to convert it from a museum into a mosque.
According to spokesman for the Turkish presidency, Ibrahim Kalin, Turkey has invited everyone to the mosque, including Pope Francis.
Last week, Pope Francis said that converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque was causing him pain.
Kalin did not elaborate on the response of the Vatican to the invitation.
“We are making some arrangements to ensure that during Muslim prayers, the mosaics will be covered but not touched,” Kalin told CNN, describing the historic mosaics as part of Turkey’s cultural heritage.
“The main point here is that there is no damage to these mosaics, depictions, the historical texture, and architecture of the building,” he told told NTV.
Religious minorities in Turkey have equal status like everyone else in the country, he said, and they would say: “We enjoy religious freedoms as much as any religious community in the country,” if they are asked.
Kailin said that the Hagia Sophia mosque will be open for believers or non-believers of any religion, to Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, to everyone.
“Reactions to the conversion of Hagia Sophia are based on old views and prejudices – there is religious freedom in Turkey,” Kalin insisted.
The first Muslim prayer in Hagia Sophia is scheduled to take place on July 24 in a ceremony open for a limited number of people due to coronavirus. President Erdogan will attend the first Muslim prayer.
PS It is not known what the Pope responded to Erdogan but most likely he said…
— Marianne☮Smedeug (@marsmegam) July 19, 2020
Erdogan reminds me of trump so much: Narcissistic blow hards and con men. I wonder if he invited the ecumenical patriarch of the eastern orthodox church Bartholmew, too!
It’s strange how people with TDS can’t make a comment about anything without mentioning Trump’s name. Wassup with that?
What a nerve Erdogan has. Some game he is playing. Quite clever from his perspective. If the Pope goes he will upset relations between the Catholic church and the Orthodox church. If the pope doesn’t go he will upset relations with the Muslim world. Either way, it is win-win for Erdogan. But ordinary people and peace will lose…
If all religions enjoy freedom of expression, why has the Greek Orthodox Theological School of Halki been closed by the Turkish government since 1971? Why do they not allow it to re-open? Is that religious freedom?!