Erdogan expected to turn another Orthodox church into mosque

After Turkey turned Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, concern is growing that the same fate awaits another Orthodox church in the city.

The Church Of The Holy Saviour In Chora; Istanbul, has some of the most beautiful mosaics and frescos in the Christian world. 

The interior of Holy Saviour in Chora, a medieval Byzantine church that is now a museum, is covered with Bible scenes and portraits of Jesus and the saints dating back to the fourteenth century. 

Half a century after their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Turks converted Chora into a mosque, hiding its rich artwork under a layer of plaster because iconic images are banned according to Islam.

Following the Second World War, then-secular Turkey changed it into the Kariye Museum and allowed American experts to restore it to its former glory. The unique mosaics and frescos have been on display since 1958. 

The State Council of Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now promotes an Islamic revival, decided last November that it should be turned back into a mosque, but the decision has not yet been implemented. 

“The Turks seem to be supporting the transformation of another Byzantine church of Constantinople into a mosque,” wrote Fr Jivko Panev, a church historian at Saint Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris, where Holy Saviour in Chora is registered as a Unesco heritage site. 

Giannis Theocharis of the Greek Archeologists’ Association said: “it is quite probable that the monument will be switched from the archaeological service to the general directorate of religious establishments.” It would then be changed into a mosque. 

Before converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, French historian Fabrice Monnier noted, Turkey had already turned two church-museums back into mosques in recent years, the artistically less notable Hagia Sophia buildings in Iznik, formerly Nicaea, and Trabzon. 

Holy Saviour in Chora is different, he told Le Figaro. "Its beautiful mosaics and frescos cover almost all the church's walls and domes," he said. "It would be hard to imagine it being returned into a mosque without totally covering them over." 

Hagia Sophia, which was the cathedral of Constantinople before being converted into a mosque by the Ottomans, was declared a museum in 1935 and then turned back into a mosque by President Erdogan last month.

Erdogan’s AK party lost the Istanbul mayoral election to a secularist politician last year, a defeat that prompted the Turkish leader to appeal to pious Muslim voters by reconverting church-museums into mosques.  

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  • Patriot Zeno
    commented 2020-08-27 01:53:35 +0100
    This situation today is partially the U.K.‘s fault! The Greeks tried to activate a Treaty they earned as Allies of your country against the Ottoman Empire in WWI. In the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922, the Greeks trusting they had British support went inland to enforce the treaty and then you Brits encouraged them to outright fight the admittedly anti-western Turkish, pro-Soviet Mustafa Kemal against commonsense as the Greek populated places of Turkey left were along the western coast of modern Turkey that had monuments of Greco-Roman culture including Constantinople/Istanbul and wouldn’t stretch the Greek supply lines and give them native volunteers to fight with them! The Greeks were lured all the way to Ankara to fight Kemal who then had homeland advantage and you Brits at the encouragement of U.S. globalists abandoned them so their supply lines broke and the Greeks lost it all after the Turks received aid from the new USSR! If you Brits had supported the Greeks then in taking what was culturally their’s and just digging in a protected border against Kemal like Greek General and later PM Ioannas Metaxas who later died fighting Hitler suggested, those churches would be functioning in between tours as Orthodox Churches and you rightist Anglicans of the High Church would be able to take Communion when visiting there as part of a Treaty perpetually!
    Today, shame on the Ecumenical Patriarch who supports schismatics in Ukraine but won’t do anything meaningful for the Greeks now in Turkey! By the way, those churches’ floors have the blood of Greek Christian martyrs on them when the Turkish Muslims went in and killed those Orthodox seeking refuge there when Byzantium abandoned by Europe’s Christians succumbed due to lack of men to protect their walls!
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