Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, applauds the U.S. senior government officials for notifying Turkish officials that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul must be “preserved in a way that respects its religious history,” not converted to a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was built in the sixth century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was for nearly a thousand years the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the center of the Orthodox Faith, and the world’s most magnificent cathedral. See this important article for more background. Converting the Hagia Sophia to a mosque once again would further undermine the position of the Christians of Turkey, making their situation all the more precarious.

We join the U.S. State Department in asking instead that the government of Turkey affirm its commitment to religious freedom and discard all plans to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. And once again we urgently request that the United Nations and the U.S. State Department and Commission on Religious Freedom act to prevent this, given the Hagia Sophia’s importance for Christians and the deleterious effect this change would have upon Turkey’s embattled Christian minority.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.

“Turkey urged by US to respect Hagia Sophia,” Ekathimerini, June 10, 2020:

In its annual International Religious Freedom Report, the US State Department notes that senior US government officials have continued to publicly and privately express to Turkish officials their view that Hagia Sophia, a former Orthodox Christian cathedral in Istanbul, is a monument of exceptional significance that must be preserved in a way that respects its religious history.

The report also said the officials stressed that Hagia Sophia is a symbol of peaceful coexistence, real dialogue and of respect between religions….