Hagia Sophia: World Council of Churches ‘dismayed’ over decision to turn museum into mosque
The interim secretary-general of the World Council of Churches has written to Turkey’s president expressing his “grief and dismay” over Turkey’s decision to change the status of Istanbul’s landmark Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.
As a World Heritage museum, “Hagia Sophia has been a place of openness, encounter and inspiration for people from all nations,” Ioan Sauca said in the letter released on Saturday by the Geneva-based group.
The colossal Hagia Sophia was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral and was converted into a mosque after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, now Istanbul, in 1453. The secular Turkish government decided in 1934 to make it a museum.
Sauca said the museum status had been “a powerful expression” of Turkey’s commitment to inclusion and secularism.