‘Unacceptable’: Russian church blasts Turkey’s Hagia Sophia plan


Converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia monument from a museum to a mosque could be “unacceptable”, a senior official within the Russian Orthodox Church stated on Saturday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed restoring the mosque standing of the World Heritage Site recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – a sixth-century constructing on the coronary heart of each the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now considered one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.

“We can’t go back to the Middle Ages now,” Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s division for exterior church relations, stated on state tv.

“We live in a multipolar world, we live in a multi-confessional world, and we need to respect the feelings of believers.”

He stated the Russian Orthodox Church didn’t perceive the motive for Hagia Sophia’s conversion and that it believed home politics was behind the move.

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia and the battle to reconvert it to a mosque

“We believe that in the current conditions this act is an unacceptable violation of religious freedom,” Hilarion was quoted as saying.

A Turkish court docket earlier this week heard a case geared toward changing the constructing again right into a mosque and can announce its verdict later this month.

The court docket case, introduced by an NGO for preserving historic monuments, disputes the legality of a choice in 1934, within the early days of the trendy secular Turkish state below Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to transform Hagia Sophia – identified in Turkish as Ayasofya – from a mosque right into a museum.

The proposal has been criticised by different spiritual and political leaders.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, primarily based in Istanbul and the non secular chief of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, stated changing Hagia Sophia right into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Greek authorities have additionally urged Turkey to maintain the constructing as a museum.

Erdogan has described international criticism over the proposal as an assault on Turkey’s sovereignty.