— “The Russian Orthodox Church has rejected the proposed conversion of Turkey’s historic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque, stating the move could provoke inter-religious tensions, the Orthodox Times reported yesterday.
“Any attempts to change the museum status of Hagia Sophia Cathedral will lead to changing and violating fragile inter-confessional balances,” the church’s head of External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, said.
According to the Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, the US State Department also notes that senior US government officials expressed to Turkish officials their view that Hagia Sophia is a monument of exceptional significance that must be preserved in a way that respects its religious history.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-ranking officials have repeatedly expressed the view that the 6th century monument, currently a museum, must be converted into a mosque.”
— “An organization supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has asked President Trump to intervene in a case where Turkey might turn a historic Istanbul church building into a mosque.
— “An early July court hearing in Turkey will likely declare that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul should be converted to a mosque,” said a letter to the president, written by Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Limberakis implored Trump to work to prevent “this sacrilegious and unnecessary decision.”
The letter, dated June 17, came as the issue heated up in Turkey and drew increasing attention to the fate of the 6th-century building, which was long the cathedral of the Church of Constantinople. Its history took a turn in 1453, when Mehmed II, having conquered Constantinople, turned the building into a mosque. In 1935, however, under the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it was turned into a museum and it has been so ever since.”