Turkey expected to turn another church into mosque

An image of Christ Pantocrator inside the Chora Museum in western Istanbul (Wikimedia/CC-BY SA)

Now that Turkey has turned Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, concern is rising that the same fate awaits another Orthodox church in the country. Source: The Tablet.

The interior of Holy Saviour in Chora, a medieval Byzantine church in western Istanbul that is now a museum, is covered with Bible scenes and portraits of Jesus and the saints dating back to the 14th century.

The Ottoman Turks turned Chora into a mosque half a century after their conquest of Constantinople in 1453, hiding its rich artwork under a layer of plaster because Islam bans iconic images.

After the World War II, then-secular Turkey changed it into the Chora (Kariye) Museum and allowed American experts to restore it to its old glory. The unique mosaics and frescos have been on display since 1958.

The State Council of Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan now promotes an Islamic revival, decided last November that it should be turned back into a mosque, but the decision has not yet been implemented.

“The Turks seem to be supporting the transformation of another Byzantine church of Constantinople into a mosque,” wrote Fr Jivko Panev, a church historian at St Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris, where Holy Saviour in Chora is registered as a UNESCO heritage site.

Giannis Theocharis of the Greek Archaeologists’ Association said: “It is quite probable that the monument will be switched from the archaeological service to the general directorate of religious establishments.” It would then be changed into a mosque.

FULL STORY

Erdogan expected to turn another Istanbul church into mosque (By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

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