Greek Foreign Ministry Criticizes Quran Reading In Hagia Sophia

Greek Foreign Ministry Criticizes Quran Reading in Hagia Sophia

ATHENS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 30th May, 2020) The Greek Foreign Ministry has condemned the Quran reading in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, regarding that as an attempt to change the status of the building, which is currently used as a museum.

On Friday, Turkey held the prayer to commemorate the 567th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople (currently, Istanbul) in Hagia Sophia. Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Hagia Sophia (formerly, the Church of the Holy Wisdom), which used to be an Orthodox Christian cathedral before becoming a mosque and then a museum, could become a mosque again with free admission.

"Today's reading of some parts of the Quran in Hagia Sophia - the global monument that is protected by UNESCO as the world heritage site and has been a museum since 1935 - is an unacceptable attempt to change its monumental nature and pose a challenge to the religious feelings of all Christians," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on late Friday.

The ministry said that the Quran reading in Hagia Sophia was discrediting Turkey, which must respect the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The Church of the Holy Wisdom was completed in 537 AD during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian the Great and remained the main cathedral of the Orthodox Church until the conquest of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204, after which the building was turned into a Catholic cathedral. In 1261, the Byzantine Empire recaptured the city and the Church of the Holy Wisdom once again became the main Orthodox cathedral.

The Ottoman troops led by Sultan Mehmet II captured Constantinople on May 29, 1453, and after that, the cathedral became a mosque. In 1934, then Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk issued a decree, which turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.