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Disy tables House petition over Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

Ruling Disy on Friday said it has tabled in parliament a draft resolution condemning the Turkish government’s plans to turn Hagia Sophia to a mosque.

The resolution points out that Hagia Sophia remains an ecumenical symbol of religious worship but also world cultural heritage monument that belongs to all of humanity.

The church is a valuable historical monument that reflects the rich and long history of Istanbul, the party said, and “is one of the largest monuments of Christian culture and a symbol of the Orthodox Christian world.”

It also points out that it has been on the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites as a museum since 1985 and that the European Parliament, in a resolution in March 2019,  expressed its opposition to any moves to convert the monument into a mosque.

The resolution condemns the announced intention of the Turkish government to change the current status of Hagia Sophia, which will fuel tension in the region “and provokes the feelings not only of Christians but also of those who believed and believe in freedom and peace.”

It also expresses its deep concern over the subsequent interventions in the monument that will result in the destruction of important historical and archaeological data.

It calls on the Turkish government to fully respect and fulfil its legal obligations to protect the character of Hagia Sophia as a World Heritage Site and on the institutions of the EU, UN and Unesco “to exert effective pressure on the Turkish government to preserve the current status of Hagia Sophia.”

The decision on whether the sixth-century former church will be turned into a mosque is expected to be announced by a Turkish court on Friday.

At issue is the legality of a decision taken in 1934 under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to turn the ancient building into a museum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque status of the church, which was central to both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and is now one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.

The expressed intention of the Turkish government has stirred strong reactions among orthodox Christians around the globe while Greece and the US called on Turkey to reconsider.

 

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