07/25/2020, 14.01
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Kerala: Eastern churches mourn Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque

by Nirmala Carvalho

The Syro-Malankara Church protests against the Turkish government’s decision. Conversion destroys the very message of tolerance that Hagia Sophia represented. The sacred place should continue to be a symbol of peace and coexistence.

Mavelikara (AsiaNews) – India’s Eastern Churches responded with a day of mourning to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, marked yesterday by the first Friday prayer.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a sacred place of great importance for the Orthodox Church, in particular for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Byzantine-era building was a Christian basilica for 916 years. It became a mosque in 1453 until a 1934 decree turned it into a museum, which is what it was for the past 86 years.

The Syro-Malankara Orthodox Church joins the world to protest against the Turkish government's decision to turn one of Christianity's most historic masterpieces into an Islamic place of worship.

“The benevolence of the Turkish government has ensured this sacred place to be preserved as a museum for all generations, irrespective of faith to enjoy,” reads a statement issued by the Syro-Malankara Orthodox Church.

“The recent decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque destroys the very message of tolerance which it stood for.”

The diocesan clergy and the Indian Orthodox believers oppose what they consider an act of religious aggression, and hope that clear minds will prevail.

“Our Church requests President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reconsider his painful decision, and return to the status quo” so that “Hagia Sophia remains as a museum.

“This is a place to celebrate religious pluralism in Turkey, and as a wonderful example to the world. The Malankara Church prays that this symbol of peace and co-existence will be permitted to continue, so all people can celebrate the rich history of Hagia Sophia.”

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