09/11/2020, 16.00
TURKEY
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Bartholomew I slams the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, says it offends Orthodox identity, history and culture

by Marian Demir

This is the second time that the ecumenical patriarch has spoken on the subject. He also cited the Monastery of Saint Saviour in Chora, which was also turned into a mosque as well. Christians and some Muslims are critical of the conversions.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The conversion of the Basilica of Hagia Sophia and the Monastery of Saint Savior in Chora into mosques "offends our identity, history and culture,” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I speaking to the Sputnik agency and reported by some Turkish newspapers on Wednesday.

“A few months ago, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque,” he said. “Later, Saint Saviour in Chora, one of the most beautiful monasteries, was transformed into a mosque. Turkey’s “leaders made these decisions hurriedly, as if the city didn’t have enough mosques, as if there was a need for places of worship for the believers of the majority religion of this country.

“These actions offend our identity, history and culture. We are patient and shall pray,” he added.

The decision by the government of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to turn Byzantine buildings into mosques has sparked harsh criticism among Christians, but also among some Muslims.

This is the second time that Bartholomew I of Constantinople has expressed his concerns over the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

The first time was on 1 July. After a Mass at the Church of the Holy Twelve Apostles in Feriköy (Istanbul), he said: “The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will provoke the reaction of millions of Christians around the world against Islam. Yet we hope for unity.”

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