Hagia Sophia: Worshippers take part in first Muslim prayers at landmark in 86 years

July 25, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the conversion of Hagia Sophia “brutally insults not only the Orthodox but all Christians, and also all of civilized humanity.”

That is true. As Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, says: “This unwise decision casts a shadow over the commitment of the government of Turkey to religious tolerance and religious freedom. The Turkish government’s decision is a deeply ill-advised act of memoricide that ignores Turkey’s rich Christian history and further threatens the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of that land. It was undertaken in defiance of the United States, Russia, France, Greece and many others.” Read more here.

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

“Hagia Sophia: Worshippers take part in first Muslim prayers at landmark in 86 years,” Euronews, July 25, 2020:

Fulfilling a dream of his Islamic-oriented youth, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined hundreds of worshipers on Friday for the first Muslim prayers in 86 years inside Hagia Sophia.

The Istanbul landmark once served as one of Christendom’s most significant cathedrals, a mosque and a museum before its conversion back into a Muslim place of worship this month.

Thousands of other Muslim faithful came from across Turkey and quickly filled specially designated areas outside of the Byzantine era monument to join in the inaugural prayers. Many others were turned away.

Orthodox Christian church leaders in Greece and the United States announced a “day of mourning” over Hagia Sophia’s return as a mosque.

The prayers began with Erdogan reciting from the Quran. The head of Turkey’s religious authority, Ali Erbas, led the ceremony and prayed that Muslims would never again be “denied” the right to worship at the internationally celebrated 6th century structure….

The structure, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has since been renamed “The Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque.”…

In neighbouring Greece, bells tolled and flags flew at half-mast at hundreds of churches across the country in protest at the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The Greek Orthodox Church leader, Archbishiop Ieronymos, held a special service at Athens Cathedral later on Friday. Churches in Athens and in Greece’s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, also organised vigils.

“Universal values have been tarnished, and that is why they require universal condemnation,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

A few hundred people took part in two peaceful protests in Athens. After the services in Thessaloniki, dozens tried to hold a protest march to the Turkish Consulate, but police prevented the crowd from reaching the building. They burned two Turkish flags before dispersing.

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the reconversion “brutally insults not only the Orthodox but all Christians, and also all of civilized humanity.”…