Reactions from ‘Globe’ as turkey reconvert Museum into Mosque

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UNESCO, Greece, Cyprus and church leaders among others express concern about changing status of the sixth-century site.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship on Friday after a top court ruled the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.

Erdogan made his announcement, just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, despite international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike.

“The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque … to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship,” the decision signed by Erdogan said.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Istanbul, a magnet for tourists worldwide, was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Awaiting of decision for Hagia Sophia trialThe court decision was followed quickly by Erdogan saying that the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Istanbul would be reopened for Muslim worship.

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The Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, unanimously cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision and said Hagia Sophia was registered as a mosque in its property deeds.

The United States, Greece and church leaders were among those to express concern about changing the status of the huge sixth-century building, converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Below is a round-up of international reaction to Friday's decisions.

Church leaders
The Russian Orthodox Church expressed dismay at Turkey’s decision to revoke the museum status of Hagia Sophia, accusing it of ignoring voices of millions of Christians.

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“The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said in comments carried by the Russian news agency Interfax.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

The Russian Orthodox Church previously urged caution over calls to alter the status of the historic former cathedral, and Russian Patriarch Kirill said he was “deeply concerned” about such a potential move and called it a “threat to the whole of Christian civilisation”.

Previously, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based in Istanbul, said converting it into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.

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UNESCO
UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand”.

The Hagia Sophia is a landmark of Istanbul, once serving as Christian cathedral, later as a mosque, then as a museum [Reuters]

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the United Nation’s cultural body said in a statement.

The European Union
The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the decision “regrettable”.

“The ruling by the Turkish Council of State to overturn one of modern Turkey’s landmark decisions and President Erdogan’s decision to place the monument under the management of the Religious Affairs Presidency is regrettable,” he said in a statement.

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Cyprus
Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, a Greek Cypriot, posted on his official Twitter account that Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

United States of America
“We are disappointed by the decision by the government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia,” Morgan Ortagus, State Department spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We understand the Turkish Government remains committed to maintaining access to the Hagia Sophia for all visitors, and look forward to hearing its plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible without impediment for all.”

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Greece
Greece branded Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”.

“The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

Mendoni further said the court ruling “absolutely confirms that there is no independent justice” in Turkey.

Russia
Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, called the action “a mistake”.

“Turning it into a mosque will not do anything for the Muslim world. It does not bring nations together, but on the contrary brings them into collision,” he said.


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2 thoughts on “Reactions from ‘Globe’ as turkey reconvert Museum into Mosque”

  1. What signs does HaShem send unto damaged g’lut Israel? Observance of halakot, they serve as the Divine signs – comparable to the plagues which befell Par’o by the hand of HaShem through Moshe. From the times following the Creation, the heart of Man expresses strong inclinations to chisel away at righteous upright behavior; its tuma impatience prefers physical violence over rational diplomacy. Form which lacks substance, to what does it compare? Ritualized observance of halakot – divorced from prophetic mussar. The classic story of Egyptian bondage. Par’o only recognized the plagues and the damages; never once did he take to heart Divine mussar דרך ארץ. This יסודי distinction defines the k’vanna of the opening working blessings of the Shemone Esri:
    אתה חונן לאדם דעת, ומלמד לאנוש בינה: חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל: ברוך אתה ה’, חונן הדעת.

    Par’o refused to validate within his heart any prophetic mussar; his Yatzir rejected דרך ארץ as a life walk – also known as t’shuva. Young king Shlomo directly compares to juvenile king Rehav’am; both rejected the advise given by their fathers’ senior most trusted advisors. This common denominator likewise occurs in Par’o when his advisors informed him that Egypt lay in ruins.

    King Shlomo did not consult with Natan the prophet, he simply decided to build both his personal Court of law, together with his pyramid like Temple. King Shlomo’s court prioritized his personal rule, which subordinated unto oblivion the Torah commandment – to established Federal Sanhedrin courts. The last commandment that Moshe accomplished during his lifetime – he established 3 small Sanhedrin Federal courts from conquered land which enlarged the 1st Republic.

    King Shlomo, by contrast, prioritized grand construction projects, this forced labor, in conjunction with his disgraceful foreign wives, drained and estranged the good will of the people. Opposition to the rule of the house of David sprouted into open rebellion during his lifetime. Rehav’am, son of Shlomo, never governed as king before the ten Tribes rebelled against the promise of his oppressive rule. Avoda zara tends to gloat about its grand and glorious splendor, and its great and brilliant wisdom. The Book of מלכים, its satire mocks the conceit by which avoda zara behavior tends to strut. Comparable to the pompous goose march-step made by Fascist and Communist soldiers in the 20th Century.

    A specific, but general example which explains avoda zara – Xtianity. Church advocates, as a general rule, ardently pursue evangelism. The wicked criminal war crimes committed by church priests, ministers and lay personnel throughout history – pushed off with the excuse: “they were not real Xtians”. Ignorant of brutal war crimes and criminal terrorism, zealant Xtian evangelists resemble – the hardened heart of Par’o. Monotheists preach that only one God lives. Yet these pious ‘true faith’preachers, never once consider the first commandment revealed at Sinai. The tuma Yatzir: blind to the obvious, the opening line ofגיטין א:א:לפי שאין בקיאין לשמה teaches a powerful mussar, which alas, Reshonim scholarship failed to grasp.

    The Shoah and the Armenian Genocide: both, examples of “Genocide-in whole”. The Young Turks and Nazi Party, their leaders made unilateral decisions that committed their nation to perpetrate racial genocide. Civil Wars throughout history have witnessed a disproportionate proportion of domestic, racial ethnic genocides. But revolutionary politics does not in and of itself produce racial wars. Attila the Hun: 372-454, the Crusades:1095-1270, Genghis Khan & the Mongol invasions:1220-1650, atrocities in the Congo 1885 – 1908, the Namaqua genocide 1904 – 1908, the Amer-Indians of North America: 1565-1924 — these mass slaughters of human life did not necessarily occur due to political revolutions or Civil Wars.

    The criminal element in all cases of racial war, viewed from the specific lenses of church guilt, these violent lunatics Universally assume that their target victims exist as inferior sub-humans. Something on par and similar to the command of General Sheridan which permitted poachers to illegally invade Indian territories, to exterminate the Indians buffalo food source. Comanche Chief Tosawi reputedly told Sheridan in 1869, “Tosawi, good Indian,” to which Sheridan reportedly replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” This crude and barbaric response succinctly sums up the motivations of extreme racial prejudice; the basis for the Catholic prayer about the perfidious Jew.

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