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CommunityCommunity OrganizationsAHI Urges President Trump to Act on Hagia Sophia, Turkey’s Violations of...

AHI Urges President Trump to Act on Hagia Sophia, Turkey’s Violations of Religious Freedom

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AHI calls notion of promoting U.S.-Turkey trade “preposterous”

WASHINGTON, DC — American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis wrote to President Donald J. Trump to convey the Institute’s outrage with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s formal action that changed Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque and the Institute’s extreme disappointment that President Trump did not address the matter with President Erdogan during their July 14 phone call.  President Larigakis urged President Trump to identify and revisit the opportunity to utilize his personal relationship with President Erdogan to secure a reversal of the latter’s formal action that changed Hagia Sophia’s status.

President Larigakis also urged President Trump to refrain from promoting U.S. trade relations with Turkey, as was discussed in the phone call. Instead, he urged President Trump to take action delegated to the President of the United States under the International Religious Freedom Act (IFRA) to hold Turkey accountable for its blatant acts that violate religious freedom, and further, the United States must oppose foreign assistance to Turkey, and any other assistance programs, including most-favored nation trade benefits for its rejection and violations of international norms, international institutions, laws, and treaties.

“With Erdogan’s deplorable act, Turkey adds to its pattern of rejecting international norms, international institutions, laws, and treaties,” Larigakis wrote. “Erdogan has exiled from the political and social life of Turkey any notion of religious tolerance.  It is not in the best interests of the United States that a supposed NATO ally continues to take measures that run contrary to the values of the international bodies to which it is a member.”

He added, “Under an increasingly authoritarian President Erdogan, Turkey has been a habitual violator of the rule of law, especially regarding its suppression of religious freedom for minorities, including the Turkish government’s tolerance of assaults upon Greek Orthodox Christian community and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the spiritual home of the world’s oldest and second largest Christian Church.”

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Read: AHI’s letter to President Trump

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