Turkey: Erdogan asks aides to conduct in-depth study on converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque

June 10, 2020

Persecution of Christians in Turkey: the Turkish government consistently shows contempt for the Christian history and heritage of Asia Minor, and particular disrespect for the rights and prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is still denied property rights and legal identity. The conversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque is just one manifestation, among many, of this contempt.

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 ask 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.

“Erdoğan Opens Study on Hagia Sophia Conversion,” International Christian Concern, June 9, 2020:

06/09/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – State-run Turkish newspapers began running stories on June 5th that President Erdoğan recently asked his aides to conduct an in-depth study on the process of converting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Erdoğan reportedly noted that the Hagia Sophia was reopened as a museum by a cabinet decision. Therefore, Erdoğan allegedly stated that the nation should be free to reverse this decision. The president plans to maintain the historic cathedral as a museum, but also open it for Islamic prayers, modeled after the neighboring Blue Mosque.

This development comes on the tail of the 567th anniversary celebration of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, which was celebrated with an Islamic prayer at the Hagia Sophia….

This is part of a larger narrative that wrongly views Christianity as a foreign threat to Turkey.