Subscribe Now!


Friday, June 25, 2021

Aghia Sophia must remain a cultural heritage of civilization

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
The copyrights for these articles are owned by HNA. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HNA and its representatives.

Latest articles

Αύριο ίσως είναι πολύ αργά… 

Είχα τονίσει την περασμένη εβδομάδα ότι «πρέπει να αλλάξουμε μυαλά» για να σώσουμε τον ταλαίπωρο πλανήτη μας. Δύο τρεις μέρες αργότερα δημοσιεύτηκαν στοιχεία που...

Turkey’s Long Persecution Against Pontian Christians

By Uzay Bulut In the Turkish city Trabzon, where few Christians are left, St. Maria Catholic Church has suffered its second attack this year. A...

Ο στρίγκλος που έγινε για λίγο αρνάκι 

«Δεν θέλω να συναντηθώ με τον Κυρ. Μητσοτάκη γιατί οι Έλληνες σκότωσαν πρόσφυγες. Τα σύνορά μας δεν κλείνουν και δεν θα συζητήσουμε άλλο αυτό...

Church Forgives $3.5 Million Medical Debt for 2,200 Families

The Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, MA is culminating its centennial celebration by giving back in a major way. It...

The Genocidal Birth of Modern Turkey

By Dr. Robert Zaller, Professor The word “genocide,” describing the systematic physical or cultural destruction of a people, was coined in 1944 by a lawyer,...

Two sad remembrances from Greek history

By Very Reverend Nektarios Cottros, Presiding Priest, Saint George Church, Piscataway, NJ, Metropolis of New Jersey  Special to the Hellenic News of America The month of...

Συμμετοχή της Hermes Expo International σε virtual event για την Ελληνική- Κυπριακή Γαστρονομία, τον Τουρισμό και το Επιχειρείν

Μια πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα διαδικτυακή εκδήλωση με θέμα την «Ελληνική-Κυπριακή Γαστρονομία. Γέφυρες για τον Τουρισμό και το Επιχειρείν» διοργάνωσε το Τμήμα AHEPA HJ25 «Άγιος Ανδρέας»...

Delaware – USA

Mail: [email protected]

June 24, 2020



Thanks for reading Hellenic News of America

Members of United Nations

Members of European Parliament

cc: Global Media

We, the International Hellenic Association*, wish to inform the relevant international bodies about recent developments challenging the historical status of Aghia Sophia which display a disregard for the historical, cultural, and theological roots of Aghia Sophia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other high-ranking officials have repeatedly expressed the view that the 6th-century monument, currently a museum, must be converted into a mosque.

The officials of the Turkish Republic have argued that the future of Aghia Sophia is a domestic affair of their country. However, in 2018 even Turkey’s supreme judicial authority, the Constitutional Court, again rejected a related petition that had previously been submitted to the same institution calling for Aghia Sophia to serve as a Mosque, closing the case permanently and irrevocably. Recent developments point to the troubling persistence on the part of Turkish officials to force the conversion of Aghia Sophia to a Mosque. But is it so simple? Certainly NOT!

The Aghia Sophia, a Byzantine Christian Cathedral until Constantinople’s fall in 1453, is now a museum and is a protected cultural site by UNESCO.  It is not only a great temple of Christendom — the largest for many centuries — it also belongs to humanity. It has been recognized by UNESCO as part of our global cultural heritage.” In a blatant disregard for Aghia Sophia’s status as a world monument, on May 29 of this year a celebration was organized by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture and broadcast live on state television, the “Al-Fātiḥah sūrah”, a Muslim prayer dedicated to Mehmet II, was read inside the today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Aside from having been built as one of the most important Christian houses of worship of the Greek Orthodox Church, Aghia Sophia is without doubt  the most important historical site in the field of Byzantine studies. Aghia Sophia has been the focus of a variety of activity since its establishment as a secular Museum in 1936. In the 1930’s, the Byzantine Institute of America was responsible for conducting important work in the Church-Museum. The Institute’s restoration work was most invaluable in rediscovering the glorious Christian iconography that had been covered up for centuries since the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. More recently, scholars have conducted research within Aghia Sophia studying the space and acoustics within the great Church in order to study and capture as closely as possible the sound and experience felt by Christian believers in Byzantium before the conquest of the city. These significant activities in fact honor and pay homage to the Biblical, historical, and cultural roots of the Great Church, and should be encouraged as much as possible.

In point of fact, Aghia Sophia is on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The aforementioned activities within Aghia Sophia prove unequivocally that cultural organizations, institutions of higher learning and Christian communities throughout the world have a vested interest in Aghia Sophia. Astonishingly, one Turkish official has advocated that certain mosaics on the walls of Aghia Sophia should be painted over. In addition, Turkey has announced plans to purchase rugs for use in Muslim prayer within Aghia Sophia. The conversion of Aghia Sophia will not only irreversibly damage the Byzantine iconography that was painfully restored during the 1930’s, but the desecularization of the Museum will make any further activity within Justinian’s Church by historians and scholars impossible.

We are cognizant of the fact that the conversion of Aghia Sophia is a troubling sign of further escalations against international peace that will ensue if Ankara is not vigorously challenged in this case. In fact, the international community has immediately condemned other instances of desecration of religious and cultural symbols including the destruction of the fifteen hundred-year-old Bamyan Buddhist statues by the Taliban in 2001. In addition, international organizations such as UNESCO condemned the destruction of the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria by ISIS. We believe that the international community has an obligation to take a stance that is no less assertive and determined on the matter of Aghia Sophia than was taken previously on the matters of the Buddhist statues of Afghanistan and the cultural artifacts of Iraq and Syria.

Institutions such as UNESCO honor and respect temples of all religions. We ask that the Greek Orthodox Christian origins of Aghia Sophia be respected. We seek only a preservation of the present status of Aghia Sophia.

* The International Hellenic Association is a non profit and non-partisan organization of academics of Hellenic background advocating for the history and culture of Hellenism

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

Get Access Now!