The Middle East Council of Churches: The Turkish Government’s decision to convert the “Hagia Sophia” church into a mosque is Violation of religious freedom and coexistence
July 11, 2020 - Following the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's signature on the Turskish Supreme Court’s decision to transform the Hagia Sophia Church into a mosque, the Middle East Council of Churches issued a statement through its General Secretariat considering that this decision is an assault on religious freedom, the freedom that has become the cornerstone in international consciousness and that is protected by international laws. Therefore, the MECC calls for a decisive position from the United Nations and the League of Arab States by filing a legal appeal of the Turkish Supreme Court’s decision to find justice based on the principles of religious freedom, as well as preserving the historical symbolism represented by the Church of "Hagia Sophia".
The General Secretariat adds: "The most dangerous element is that this decision comes out of the context of the Christian-Muslim coexistence journey, the most prominent manifestation of which was on February 4, 2019 in “The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, which concluded in the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Sheikh Al-Azhar Al-Sharif Ahmed Al-Tayeb, as well as all ecumenical initiatives and interfaith dialogues in the last three decades, which makes this decision to go beyond a pure process of convergence on the common good and peace in the face of radicalism and extremism ”.
The Statement concludes: "By this decision, the whole World is called upon to stand together and conscientious, and calls on the societal and religious authorities living in Turkey to get mobilized at all levels to put an end to this aggression and transgression in a way that preserves the true meaning of coexistence in all its profundity."
Middle East Council of Churches
Communication and Public Relations Department
- National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA statement laments the Turkish decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, and remembers the genocide at Srebrenica
- World Council of Churches letter to President Erdogan to keep Hagia Sophia as the shared heritage of humanity
- Evangelical Church of Greece expresses sorrow and condemnation for the conversion of the Hagia Sophia
- Conference of European Churches regrets decision over Hagia Sophia
- Ecumenical Patriarch issues statement on Hagia Sophia
- Pope Francis 'very distressed' over Hagia Sophia mosque move
- Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA: Statement on the Tragic Conversion of Hagia Sophia from Museum to Mosque
- Islamic Society of North America condemns Turkey's conversion of Hagia Sophia
- Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul (June 16, 2020): Hagia Sophia should be open to worship for Muslims, but also for Christians
- Greek Orthodox Diocese of America Petitions UN Experts to Hold Turkey Accountable for Violating Cultural and Religious Rights (Sept. 29, 2020)
- Churches for Middle East Peace Affirms the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America's Petition to UN Experts to Hold Turkey Accountable for Violating Cultural and Religious Rights (Oct. 2, 2020)