MECC condemns Turkey's decision to convert Hagia Sophia church into mosque

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) issued a statement on Saturday condemning the decision of the Turkish regime to transform the Hagia Sophia Church into a mosque.

 "This decision is an assault on religious freedom, the freedom that has become the cornerstone in international consciousness and that is protected by international law, " a statement by the MECC General Secretariat said.

The MECC called for a decisive UN stance on this decision in order to preserve the historical symbolism represented by the Church of Hagia Sophia.

 The council went on to say that the most dangerous element is that this decision comes out of the context of the Christian-Muslim coexistence as well as the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together", signed in 2019, and all the ecumenical initiatives and religious dialogues in the last three decades.

 This Turkish decision goes beyond a pure process of convergence on the common good and peace in the face of radicalism and extremism, the council added, calling on the world to join efforts against this decision.

The Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Istanbul, is a magnet for tourists worldwide. It 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. It remained like this until 1935 in which it became a museum by a decision from the then Turkish authorities.

Hamda Mustafa