- The Washington Times - Friday, August 21, 2020

Just weeks after turning the iconic Hagia Sophiadafabet手机版平台 from a museum back into a Muslim house of worship, Turkey has decreed the same fate for a second historic Orthodox Christian church and World Heritage Site.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogandafabet手机版平台 on Friday ordered the Chora Church in Istanbul, currently a museum and renowned for its Byzantine architecture, luscious frescoes and Biblical mosaics, be converted into a mosque, according to multiple reports.

dafabet手机版平台The announcement was lambasted by the highest-ranking Greek Orthodox cleric in the U.S.

“After the tragic transgression with #HagiaSophia, now the Monastery of Chora, this exquisite offering of Byzantine culture to the world!” wrote Archbishop Elpidophoros of America on Twitter. “The Turkish people do not deserve such a narrow-minded policy. The pleas and exhortations of the international community are ignored. How long?”

A ruling by the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, in November declared the UNESCO site and museum unlawful and paved the way for the declaration by Mr. Erdogandafabet手机版平台, who has worked to shore up support for his AK party after losing the Istanbul mayoral election.

Turkey’s secular government converted Chora into a museum in the 1950s after nearly 400 years of serving Muslim worshippers as a mosque. Prior to the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, the mosque was a Christian church — with colorful domes and artwork dedicated to Jesus and the saints. Though the structure dates to the 14th century, The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora was originally established as a monastery for the Byzantium capital of Constantinople in the fourth century.

The move to convert the museum to a mosque raises questions about what will happen to the famous frescoes and mosaics. The Ottoman Empire hid the artwork under plaster, but they were restored after Chora was converted into museum and have been on display since 1958.

Last month, Mr. Erdogan prayed with tens of thousands of Muslim faithful at Hagia Sophiadafabet手机版平台, a worship site contested by Christians and Muslims dating to medieval times.

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