Turkey Converts Second Byzantine Church Into Mosque After Hagia Sophia

(MENAFN- Khaama Press) Turkey has opened one of Istanbul's most famous churches, which dates back to the fourth century, to Muslim worshipers after using it as a museum for 70 years.

This is the second major change in religious sites during Recep Tayyip Erdogan's presidency.

Previously, in 2020, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, converted the famous Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul from a museum to a mosque in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands.

This action was criticized by church leaders and some Western countries, who viewed it as exacerbating religious divides.

Erdogan stated that this was an intervention in sovereign rights, and he was determined to support the rights of Muslims. In his second action, he converted the fourth-century“Chora” church to a mosque.

The main church of Chora, with walls adorned with scenes from the Bible, was converted into a Museum by the Ottomans. Erdogan ordered its conversion into a mosque in 2022, and it reopened on Monday after renovation.

Freddy Simon, a British tourist, said he would have preferred the building to remain a museum so people could see the mosaics and murals. He said,“It seems like a political game.”

He added, referring to the fact that the main prayer hall is reserved for men,“It's shameful to see faithful women who have come to pray being told they cannot enter the main area of the minaret.”

The conversion of historic churches like Hagia Sophia and Chora into mosques marks a significant shift in Turkey's approach to its cultural heritage, reflecting broader political and social dynamics within the country.

While these changes cater to the religious sentiments of some, they also spark controversy and debate about the preservation of historical identity and the role of secularism in modern Turkey.

This ongoing transformation underscores the complex interplay between politics, religion, and cultural preservation in a rapidly changing global landscape.

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Khaama Press

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