Turkey’s President Erdogan Orders Historic Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora to be Turned Into a Mosque

FILE PHOTO: Turkish police officers stand guard atop the Kariye (Chora) museum, the 11th century church of St. Savior, during a visit by Britain’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla in Istanbul, November 28, 2007. REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

About a month after converting Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia into a Muslim house of prayer, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has now ordered another ancient Orthodox church to be turned into a mosque.

Erdogan, who is seeking to gain support among his conservative base amid economic and political uncertainty, has officially ordered that Istanbul’s medieval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora — also known as the Kariye Museum — be handed over to Turkey’s religious authority for its conversion into a Muslim house of prayer, The Associated Press reported.

Originally built in the early 4th century by Constantine the Great, the Holy Saviour church was converted into the Kariye Mosque about 50 years after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks. In 1945, the building was designated a museum by the Turkish government. The museum was opened for public display in 1958 after American art historians helped restore the original church’s mosaics.

The foreign ministry of Greece, where millions of Orthodox Christians live, condemned Erdogan’s decision for “once again brutally insulting the character” of another U.N. world heritage site.

“This is a provocation against all believers,” the Greek ministry said in a statement. “We urge Turkey to return to the 21st century, and the mutual respect, dialogue and understanding between civilizations.”

Turkey’s Opposition HDP party lawmaker Garo Paylan called the move “a shame for our country.”

“One of the symbols of our country’s deep, multicultural identity and multi-religious history has been sacrificed,” he tweeted, according to France 24.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Anugrah Kumar