EUROPE > Greece angered over Turkish Deputy PM’s Hagia Sophia remarks


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The Greek Foreign Ministry has reacted angrily days after Turkish Deputy PM Bülent Arınç expressed his hope to see Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum be used as a mosque. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Greek Foreign Ministry has reacted angrily days after Turkish Deputy PM Bülent Arınç expressed his hope to see Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum be used as a mosque. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Greek Foreign Ministry has reacted angrily over a possible conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque following statements from Turkish officials.

“The repeated statements from Turkish officials regarding the conversion of Byzantine Christian churches into mosques are an insult to the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians and are actions that are anachronistic and incomprehensible from a state that declares it wants to participate as a full member in the European Union, a fundamental principle of which is respect for religious freedom,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Nov. 18.

“Byzantine Christian churches are an intrinsic element of world cultural and religious heritage, and they should receive the necessary respect and protection,” it said.

The statement came days after Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç expressed his hope to see Hagia Sophia Museum be used as a mosque, while already calling it the “Hagia Sophia Mosque” while speaking to reporters.

“We currently stand next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque […] we are looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we will see it smiling again soon,” Arınç said in a speech during the opening ceremony of a new Carpet Museum, located adjacent to the ancient Hagia Sophia complex.

The status of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a number of campaigns to open it for Muslim prayers being initiated, despite suggestions that this would be disrespectful to the building’s past as a church.


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Notice on comments

Deacon James

12/10/2013 9:07:31 PM

Another novel for your consideration is to turn it into a mosque on Friday and a" Christian" Church on Sunday. I suggest charging 10mil Euro per each day. Selection would be made by your ministry of Culture who administer the facilities. The monies would be earmarked for Hagia Sofia: Admin, Maintenance, transportation of pilgrims and grounds keeping. I can't wait to see a Billy Graham Crusade there and the Minarets calling the Christians to service with voices and lasers pointing to heaven. z

T. Franklin

12/4/2013 10:14:08 AM

Kind of like the growing movement of Jews that want to pray at the al-Aqsa Mosque, or Temple Mount to the Jews. Kind of hard for Turkey to be against that in light of this story.

kibrisli TURK

12/1/2013 1:47:23 AM

The amount of Christianist posters here is scary...shows who real religious extremists are...im sorry but the city was conquered 600 years ago...we can & will do what we want with it, as you have in your lands...fair is fair! More imp. there is NOT A SINGLE MOSQUE IN ATHENS - what nerve to tell the Turks what to do in their own country! Pathetic Greek character never ceases to shock the world!

Halil Ibrahim

11/21/2013 12:44:13 AM

DORUS LIVIS, My argument is not that Turks are perfect either. However it's not simply territorial angst. A good portion of the hostility Greeks feel toward Turks is "out of context" politicized history that is blindly memorized generation after generation, all because the Greek Orthodox church feels marginalized and needs a scarecrow to cement it's grip. Religion as genetic identity is dangerous stuff, this is what we are afraid happening in Turkey, yet Greeks seem unconcerned.

Brit in Turkey

11/20/2013 6:46:40 PM

Baris: Good idea, let it be a monument to all faiths! Please no hate mail, I'm just joking!

Ken Alden

11/20/2013 3:30:50 PM

Brit in Turkey, thanks for the reply, I must say I had expected your usual balanced reply but be it what it is, I shall defend your right to say so, Rah, Rah, Rah! Please check out in today's OPINION Column Barak Pekdil.

Vangelis Denaxas

11/20/2013 2:34:28 PM

Such decisions and proposals from AKP officials have nothing to do with Greeks or Christians in general. It is an internal matter of Turks. It is an ideological fight between Islamists and Kemalists


11/20/2013 1:20:02 PM

Brit in Turkey: "And Saturday as a day of rest?". That's Sabbath, Brit, and I propose Hagia Sophia becomes a synagogue on those days. Or, will that turn an already sensitive issue into a nightmare?

Brit in Turkey

11/20/2013 12:17:42 PM

Attila Başaran: And Saturday as a day of rest? ☺

Brit in Turkey

11/20/2013 12:13:17 PM

Ken Alden: I apologise for not being clear - my reference was to the Turkish government.
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