Tuesday , June 25 2024
Home / FEATURED / Turkey formally opens the magnificent Church of Chora as a mosque

Turkey formally opens the magnificent Church of Chora as a mosque

Of all things on Easter Monday, the Turkish government decided to announce the formal opening of another Byzantine church into a mosque. After Hagia Sophia, the Chora church is the second magnificent heritage of Greek Orthodoxy that Turkey converts into a mosque and opens for prayers to Muslim faithful.

The opening takes place just days before the meeting of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis with President Recep Tayyip Erdogsn in Ankara.

The Greek foreign Ministry reacted angrily.

Built in 534 and situated near Istanbul’s ancient city walls, the Church of St. Saviour in Chora is famous for its elaborate mosaics and frescoes.

Chora Museum Attendant Angels

The structure served as a mosque during Ottoman rule before being transformed into a museum in 1945.

Both Chora and Hagia Sophia are listed as UN World Heritage Sites and both operated as mosques almost a century after the Fall of Konstantinople in 1453 and as museums after the middle of the 20th century.

Turkey converted it into a mosque in 2020 drawing praise from Muslim faithful but criticism from Greece and other countries and the UNESCO who had urged Turkey to protect the important Byzantine-era monuments.the formal opening as a prayers  for Muslim was delayed due to restorations.

Erdogan on Monday remotely presided over a ceremony marking the opening of the Chora from a conference hall at his palace complex in Ankara.

“May it bring good fortune,” Erdogan said during the televised event.

Musa Tombul was among the first worshippers to pray inside.

“I have been waiting for its opening for four years,” he told the state-run Anadolu Agency. “I was honored to pray in such a place” the Associated Press reported.

“We thank God for showing us these days,” Anadolu quoted another worshiper, Haydar Senbahar, as saying. “Hopefully, we will come here from time to time and perform our prayers.”

Greek foreign ministry reacted angrily to the formal opening of Chora as a mosque and issued a statement accusing Ankara of “insulting the character” of another World Heritage Site.

The Turkish authorities’ decision to begin the operation of the Monastery of Chora as a Muslim mosque constitutes a provocation for the international community as it distorts and affects its character as a UNESCO World Heritage Site belonging to humanity.

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

There is absolutely no shortage of mosques in Turkey in general and in Istanbul in particular. According to 2024 official data, the number of mosques in the country stands at 89,817.

So why are authorities in Turkey constantly converting historic churches into mosques?

Check Also

Fires are sweeping in SW Greece; one dead

A 55-year-old man has died while he was assisting firefighters to extinguish a wildfire in …