Turkey continues to desecrate historical churches

Thursday, January 28, 2021

(Worthy News) - Turkey is continuing its neglect of historical churches, in what is reportedly an ongoing effort by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to lead the country further into Islamic culture, International Christian Concern reports.

In a highly contested and controversial move last July, Erdogan converted the famous Haghia Sophia museum, a World Heritage site, into a mosque, DW reported. An important tourist site in Istanbul, the Haghia Sophia was built 1,500 years ago as a cathedral in which the Byzantines crowned their emperors. The magnificent building was subsequently converted into a mosque after the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, now Istanbul. However, in a subsequent Turkish push toward secularism, in 1935 the Haghia Sophia was transformed into a museum that is widely viewed as a symbol of religious tolerance and secularism.

A month later, in August 2020, Erdogan set his sights on The Holy Saviour Church in Chora. A treasured medieval Byzantine church decorated with 14th-century frescoes of the Last Judgement, the church was converted into the Kariye Mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. After the Second World War, this church too was transformed into a museum. Erdogan has now converted it back into a mosque.
According to ICC, a recent report was made that a kebab seller had hosted a barbecue at an Armenian church building in Germus. The church had been forcibly abandoned and then looted: century-long pleas by local Christians for government funding to restore it have so far gone unheeded.

ICC also reports that an Armenian Catholic church in Bursa was put up for sale for around $800,000. In the sales advertisement, the building was described as a “historical church that can become a culture and art center/museum/hotel in Bursa.” Responding to the move, Turkish Parliamentarian of Armenian descent Garo Pylan reportedly said: “Can the place of worship be sold? How can society and the state allow this? Shame on you!”