Hagia Sophia: Environment Council of Churches appeals to Turkey on mosque final decision

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Police patrol outside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, 11 July 2020Graphic copyright

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The Hagia Sophia opens for Muslim prayer on 24 July

The Planet Council of Churches has referred to as on Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reverse his final decision to transform the celebrated Hagia Sophia museum again into a mosque.

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In a letter to Mr Erdogan, the Council, which counts 350 churches as customers, stated the move would sow division.

The Unesco Earth Heritage web page in Istanbul has been a museum since 1934.

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The president introduced his final decision on Friday subsequent a court ruling which annulled its museum standing.

The Hagia Sophia was created 1,500 a long time back as an Orthodox Christian cathedral, but was transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453.

It was transformed to a museum on the orders of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of fashionable, secular Turkey.

Since then religious services have been banned at the web site, but devout Muslims have long campaigned for worship to be authorized.

What does the letter say?

The Geneva-centered Earth Council of Churches suggests it represents additional than 500 million Christians.

The letter is from Ioan Sauca, interim standard secretary, who suggests the Council feels “grief and dismay”.

“By deciding to transform the Hagia Sophia back again to a mosque you have reversed that optimistic signal of Turkey’s openness and adjusted it to a signal of exclusion and division.”

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Worshippers prayed outside the creating on Friday

He writes that the selection “will inevitably generate uncertainties, suspicions and mistrust, undermining all our attempts to bring persons of diverse faiths with each other at the desk of dialogue and co-operation”.

“In the passions of marketing mutual understanding, regard, dialogue and co-procedure, and averting cultivating old animosities and divisions, we urgently appeal to you to reconsider and reverse your determination,” the letter proceeds.

What has President Erdogan mentioned?

The case was resolved by the Council of Point out, Turkey’s greatest administrative entire body, adhering to a petition from an NGO – the Affiliation for the Security of Historic Monuments and the Surroundings.

It argued that the making had been the personal home of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed, liable for turning the church into a mosque.

The difficulty has highlighted the clash concerning people who want Turkey to continue to be secular, and President Erdogan’s conservative religious foundation.

He defended his decision on Friday by stressing that the country had exercised its sovereign suitable in converting the constructing back to a mosque. The first Muslim prayers would be held on 24 July.

“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be vast open up to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he stated.

Nowadays Turkey experienced “435 churches and synagogues open for worship”, when “few structures our ancestors created in Japanese Europe and Balkans stand right now”.

What other response was there?

Unesco expressed deep regret at the move and identified as for Turkey to open dialogue “without the need of delay.”

The head of the Eastern Orthodox Church has condemned the transfer.

Greece, dwelling to a lot of millions of Orthodox followers, known as it an “open provocation to the civilised planet”.

The Church in Russia, residence to the world’s most significant Orthodox Christian neighborhood, immediately expressed regret that the Turkish court experienced not taken its worries into account when ruling on Hagia Sophia.

And Turkey’s most famed author, Orhan Pamuk, advised the BBC: “There are tens of millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not listened to.”

Background of a world wide icon

  • Hagia Sophia’s complex history started in the calendar year 537 when Byzantine emperor Justinian developed the huge church overlooking the Golden Horn harbour
  • With its massive dome, it was believed to be the world’s largest church and making
  • It remained in Byzantine fingers for centuries apart from a transient minute in 1204 when Crusaders raided the city
  • In 1453, in a devastating blow to the Byzantines, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II captured Istanbul (formerly regarded as Constantinople) and the victorious conqueror done Friday prayers inside of Hagia Sophia
  • The Ottomans shortly converted the developing into a mosque, including 4 minarets to the exterior and masking ornate Christian icons and gold mosaics with panels of Arabic religious calligraphy
  • After generations at the coronary heart of the Muslim Ottoman empire, it was turned into a museum in 1934 in a push to make Turkey far more secular
  • These days Hagia Sophia is Turkey’s most popular tourist web-site, attracting far more than three.7 million site visitors a year

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