The aggressive Muslim Brotherhood ‘cleansing’ of Christian heritage in Turkey is grinding on. Addressing a rally ahead of the March 31 municipal elections in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to convert the Hagia Sophia museum, once the largest Byzantine cathedral in the world, into a mosque.
Erdogan repeated this statement the following day during a televised interview. “Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum,” he declared. “Its status will change. We will call it a mosque.”
- “When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, virtually all of the city’s surviving cathedrals and churches were — after being desecrated and thoroughly plundered — forcibly seized and turned over to the Turks’ religious establishment to be converted to mosques and used as Muslim properties.” — Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou, professor of history, Salem State University.
- Nine other former Hagia Sophia churches are either being used as mosques already or are in the process of being renovated for this purpose. The youngest of these, in Trabzon, was converted into a mosque in 2013. — Ersoy Soydan, assistant professor of communications at Kastamonu University and author of Churches and Monasteries in Turkey
- Sadly, Turkey’s Greek community as a whole, let alone that of Istanbul by itself, is not sizeable enough to oppose or protest infringements on their historic cathedral. The 1914-1923 genocide of Greek Christians in Anatolia, and subsequent atrocities against the survivors — such as the 1955 anti-Greek pogroms in Istanbul — have almost completely wiped out the region’s Greek populace.