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Greek Church Bells Toll in Mourning for Hagia Sophia as Muslims Hold First Friday Prayer

Greek Church Bells Toll in Mourning for Hagia Sophia as Muslims Hold First Friday Prayer

Head of Greek Orthodox Church: Converting Hagia Sophia to mosque an “unholy act of sacrilege.”

Church bells across Greece tolled in mourning on Friday as neighboring Turkey held its first Islamic prayer marking the conversion of Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque, Greek newspapers reported. Hagia Sophia, the first cathedral of the Eastern Roman Empire, is particularly sacred to Christian Orthodox believers, represented largely by the Greek Church. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led Muslims into prayer at the sixth century cathedral amid the chants of Allahu Akbar, the Islamic cry of jihad and conquest. “A group of men waved Turkish flags and chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’,” BBC reported. “Mosaics and frescoes of Jesus and Mary were draped with curtains.” The status of the historic Christian site was changed by a Turkish presidential decree. 

Head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, declared July 24 a ‘day of mourning’ to mark the loss of the holy site.

Erdogan’s regime is carrying out an “unholy act of sacrilege” against a “holy spiritual center for our Orthodox faith, of Christianity in general, and of a symbol of our faith,” the Archbishop said

The patriarch also slammed world leaders for their cowardice in the face of the Islamic usurpation of one of Christianity’s holiest places, saying: “I am deeply grieved that the powerful of this world, at least the majority of them, are hiding behind their finger, or rather behind their own geopolitical and geostrategic designs.”

The Athens-based daily Kathimerini reported Greek response: 

The official conversion on Friday of the historic former Greek Orthodox church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque was greeted with disdain and indignation by Greece’s political leadership, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis saying it was not a demonstration of Turkey’s power but “evidence of weakness.” (…)

“Especially for us Greek Orthodox Christians, Hagia Sophia is more a part of our souls today than ever. It is where our hearts beat, turning sorrow into strength, composure and unity,” Mitostakis said.

In a statement, the Greek Foreign Ministry said the conversion cast a dark shadow over Turkey’s reputation.

The leader of main opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras said that the conversion, which also coincided with the anniversary of the the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, “marks another step away by Turkey from the universal values that are the basis for peace and mutual respect in our region.”

“It essentially undermines interfaith dialogue… no conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, however, can falsify or erase its history and its universal symbolism,” Tsipras said.

“As a Greek I feel bitter and angry,” said European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas.

Church bells tolled mournfully around Greece to the sound of Byzantine hymns while at Hagia Sophia clerics sang from the Koran, with mosaics and frescoes of Jesus and Mary draped with curtains. The ceremony in Istanbul began with the recitation of verses from the Koran by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself.

Consecrated by Byzantine emperor Justinian in the year 537, the cathedral fell into Muslim hands when Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) was sacked by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The Turks used it to a mosque, adding four minarets to its central dome. Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in 1934 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, abolished the Istanbul-based global Islamic caliphate in order to modernize the country.

Demonstrators in Greek capital Athens and other cities marched against Turkey’s growing Islamist imperial ambitions, denouncing “the second capture of Constantinople by the Turks,” France-based boadcaster EuroNews reported.

Turkey’s Erdogan responded to growing criticism from Europe and the West by playing the Islamophobia card. He slammed Western countries for “not take a step against Islamophobia.”

To add insult to injury, Turkey’s top imam took to the pulpit carrying a sword, a symbol of Islamic conquest over non-Muslims. Iman with his “his hands clasped on the hilt of the sword of conquest, gave his sermon,” The New York Times reported

‘Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis hits out at Hagia Sophia becoming a mosque’

(Cover image via YouTube)


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nordic_prince | July 25, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Well, let the Christians take over the Ka’bah and the Dome of the Rock, and see how the Muslims like those apples.

Fair is fair.

    Beaufort in reply to nordic_prince. | July 25, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Let’s not forget La Mezquita – Catedral in Cordoba, Spain. A mosque converted to a Catholic church after Spain dispatched the Moors. The earlier levels of architecture are Arabic and later levels are distinctly Catholic.

      Valerie in reply to Beaufort. | July 25, 2020 at 3:37 pm

      And what was it before it was a mosque? Again Muslim have a habit of taking other people’s religious sites and converting them, as a sign of conquest.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Valerie. | July 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

        They have a history of stealing and then claiming they Built That………..

      Kepha H in reply to Beaufort. | July 25, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      I believe the site was a Visigothic Cathedral before the Islamic conquest. It was a near-universal practice of the Muslims in their earlier centuries to claim a place’s main Christian or other place of worship as a mosque. The main mosque of Damascus, for instance, was originally the Basilica of John the Baptist.

      I have taken to calling the Reconquista Spain’s 7-century anti-colonial struggle.

    DSHornet in reply to nordic_prince. | July 25, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    Yeah, that’ll go over well. Be prepared for some negative feedback from the Muslim world.

    However, it’s an intriguing idea, especially after this corruption. According to Revelation, the triumphant Christ will do it himself and save us a lot of trouble. It’ll be great to watch with either physical or spiritual eyes. Hurry, Lord!

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to nordic_prince. | July 25, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Then, they should do it, if they have the guts.

When I was born (a boomer) There were plenty of people alive who remembered when Turks slaughtered over a million Armenian Christian men and boys. And the Turks marched over a million women and girls to Syria when they were sold as sex slaves.

So, it is not just about an old Church.

This is a common Muslim practice: to commandeer the local churches. It’s one of their versions of triumphalism, and they make no secret of it.

The church across the street from me has been commandeered into a mosque

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to gonzotx. | July 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Commandeered? Or sold? Abandoned for lack of attendance?

      Good point.

      Christianity is withering–no external influence necessary.

      Embrace the powers of “or” and “and”.

      Some are commandeered. But that rarely happens these days. Some are sold from lack of use by the Christians. My guess is that there would be well funded Muslims who would make cash available when a diocese needs to consolidate parishes and close a building. In my past the local church sold a building which became an angel museum. But sellers give up rights.

      Much easier to buy an unused building than to win a battle.

      In France, and over Europe, Christianity is diminishing, and in particular the Catholic Church is diminishing. Declines are evident in vocations to the priesthood, baptisms, marriages, and funerals. Yes, the Catholic Church is in decline. Those who cheer this on will probably find they like a post-Christian world much less than a Christian world.

All over the world, churches are being sold by The Church, to Muslims to be made into mosques.

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Davod1. | July 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm


      I can’t speak for Catholic churches, but the Episcopalians have done it here in the States, including in circumstances in which a congregation or diocese left the Episcopal Church and affiliated with a different Anglican group (such as ACNA) or an African diocese because of the gay marriage issue. The Episcopal Church kept the buildings because the courts ruled they were theirs, but in a number of cases since they had no congregations left to use them the buildings ended up being sold, including to Muslim groups.

      Last I heard, the Episcopal Church has spent an estimated $40-$50 million litigating over church buildings that either become home to much smaller congregations after most of the parishioners leave, sit unused, or get sold.

        Morning Sunshine in reply to p. | July 26, 2020 at 10:07 am

        that is spite. Liberals and those who espouse liberal values have a “if you don’t play my way, I am not just taking my ball and going home, but I will destroy it as well!”

          Indeed it is, and it’s the legacy of the previous Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

          Not to mention the many Episcopal Church buildings being closed or sold just because congregations fold or merge due to rapidly declining attendance. As much as they claim to be welcoming to everyone, very few younger people are replacing congregants who die. The average congregant age, if I recall, is around 65. There likely won’t be much of any of an Episcopal Church in 20 years.

          From what I’m seeing the Protestant world, in general the churches that are thriving are the ones that are more conservative in doctrine.

This is so sad. We visited the Hagia Sophia last year and what an experience! Our guide, a Muslim, told us at the time that work had begun on renovations of the Byzantine artwork and he was glad this was being done to preserve its beauty. Unfortunately, Erdogan had other plans. Now the artwork has been covered up with fabric. Let’s hope it won’t be defaced. Ataturk brought Turkey into the 20th Century. Erdogan has talen it back centuries!

    GatorGuy in reply to MAB. | July 26, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    And there you have it, the key distinction in all this: those who want the cathedral to be maintained as an emblem of Istanbul’s unique, intercultural and intercontinental heritage, and others who want to bend and ply the learned facts and the hard-studied conclusions of such colossally monumental history into their regionally hegemonic, geostrategic aims.

    Or, more simply put and reduced: Those who strive for the principle of Art for the sake of Art and all its history, understanding, and peace, and others who have no such international, aesthetic and irenic sense by daring and taunting at the regional nations’ competing cultural sensibilities via the host-nation’s narcissistic cultural infringements, thereby luring them into a condition of serious, international angst and possible conflict.

    It’s the need for mutual respect and understanding, resulting in peace, vs the need to dismiss and abandon these ennobling, natural tension-calming pursuits, regardless of the predictable international consequences.

    Even when as early humans, living in caves, there were — we may infer from the available evidence — those who enjoyed the wonders of peace, and others who thrived on the blood-spilling savagery of violent aggression.

    Either way, the greatest possible split into the civility of the one vs the incivility of the other seems to come with being human.

    No big find, here, I admit; just paying honest, close, and vital attention, as best I can, to our recorded, more or less accepted, common nature.

Hopefully the Turkish government will continue to protect and restore the structure, preserving the artistic heritage.

I am not sure why folks find this act to be surprising. This was preordained the moment the EU ignored Turkey’s fulfillment of the many conditions and requirements for membership in the EU.

At the time Turkey was still controlled by the moderate western oriented predecessor of Erdogen. The rejection of EU membership despite the compliance of Turkey to the preconditions of the EU was the major reason why Erdogen was able to come into power.

The Turks felt betrayed and belittled by the EU. Understandably they gravitated towards the man who promised to stand up against these perceived and actual humiliations.

Since Erdogen came to power he has slowly but steadily sought to increase the prestige, power and influence of Turkey in the Islamic world and utilize the geographic position of Turkey to gain respect from the West.

The involvement of Turkey in Syria and this latest action are calculated to enhance and influence opinion in the Islamic world and to poke a finger at the EU. Not to mention the fact that Greeks and Turks will take any opportunity to knife each other.

The Turks felt isolated and ignored by the EU and by the U.S. to a lesser degree. One thing is for sure, no one in power is ignoring the Turks today.

Erdogan believes he has delivered an “Ottoman slap” to the entire Christian world. His Turkey is no longer and ally of the West.

Another prime example is the Muslim conquest of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the 7th century and the erection thereon of the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al Aqsa Mosque. To this day, the Temple Mount is controlled by Muslim religious authorities and Jews are not allowed to pray at the site of their two ancient Jewish temples. Can you imagine what would happen if the Israelis did to the Temple Mount what the Turks have done to Hagia Sophia!