Showing posts with label Constantinople. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Constantinople. Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia to Have a Permanent Imam -- De Facto Transformation Into a Mosque

(Istanbul) Since 2003 when the Islamic Party for Justice and Development (AKP) took control of the government in Turkey under  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a re-Islamization of the country has taken place.
Since mid-19th century  the expulsion and oppression of Christians had begun. In the decade 1910-1920 the coup de grace against the Christians took place by a cruel and bloody genocide.  Armenians, Greeks and Chaldeans were killed, expelled or forced to convert to Islam. One hundred years ago  in Istanbul, then still Constantinople, it was said that it was half Christians and Muslims. About 25 percent of the residents in the  area of what is now ​​present-day Turkey were still Christians. Today there are only 0.2 percent.


The "Prestige" items of Re-Islamization is fulfilled by the conversion of famous ancient Byzantine churches. After the Turkish conquest of the country, they were made into mosques. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a representative of a national Turkish secularism, made them museums. For years,  ACP Islamic circles have again called to make them mosques.

Magnificent frescoes in the Hagi Sophia of Trebizond: the four Evangelists surrounded by angels. Mosque since 2012.

In some cases, Erdogan's government is already putting the various proposals into practice.
  • The Hagia Sophia of Nicea which was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I.  again became a mosque in 2011.  In 787 it had witnessed the Second Council of Nicaea. In 1337 Nicaea was conquered by the Muslims and made into a mosque. However, the Turks forfeited it and gave it up at  the end of the 19th century. Under Atatürk it became a museum in 1935.
  • 2012  Hagia Sophia of Trebizond followed.  It had been built in 1250 by Emperor Manuel I Comnenus on the site of an earlier church. In 1204 the Byzantine Empire had been conquered during the Fourth Crusade. The noble family of Comnenus established the Empire of Trebizond as a successor state. In the new capital, the Hagia Sophia was inspired by the famous model of Constantinople. Trebizond would even last a few more years than Constantinople. In 1461 the small empire on the Black Sea was conquered by the Muslims as well. Since the Basilica was a few kilometers outside the city walls, it was only desecrated in 1511 by the Turks and  converted into a mosque only in 1584. The monastery which was attached to the Basilica was inhabited until the early 18th century by Greek Orthodox monks. The use as a mosque ended in the 50s of the 20th century. In the spirit of Ataturk it was then made into a museum. At the same the church frescoes whitewashed by the Muslims were uncovered again.

Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, the magnificent Basilica of the East

The most significant and magnificent Basilica of the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia of Constantinople is still a museum. The question is: for how long?

The Hagia Sophia was begun under the Emperor Constantine the Great  in 325. Under Emperor Justinian I it took its present form and was consecrated in 537. It is one of the outstanding monuments of late antiquity. The great dome which rests only on four pillars, represents an architectural masterpiece. It was the cathedral of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the coronation church of the Byzantine emperors. For 1128 years,  the Divine Liturgy was celebrated there, of which 916 years was in its form visible today.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by the Turks, it was desecrated and converted into a mosque in the same year.
The Hagia Sophia, the largest and most splendid Basilica of the East, the imperial church of East Rome was desecrated by the Turks and converted into a mosque after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. The Christian basilica can be seen today. In the Muslim period, four minarets were built and the cross was replaced on the main dome with the crescent to mark the Islamic conquest. In 1931 it was converted into a museum and is the biggest tourist attraction of Istanbul.

Since 2010 Demand for Renewed Conversion Into a Mosque

Its conversion into a mosque was called for at the political level in 2010. In 2012 an unknown Muslim Turk named Talip Bozkurt from Kahramanmaras in Anatolia, made a proposal in the Turkish Parliament to transform the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. The suggestion was taken up and entered into parliamentary debate in January 2013.

Hagia Sophia of Nicaea, in 787 meeting  place of a council. Mosque since 2011

The Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and Constantinople demand its the return to the Christians. If the Hagia Sophia is to be reopened for prayer, then it should be a church again, says Patriarch Bartholomew
Due to its  formative significance on the cityscape of Istanbul, neither Muslims nor Turkish nationalists are ready to return it to the Christians. For the AKP government, the issue of re-Islamization of the monument has a special symbolic meaning. This also applies to the  Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who was relected in  May. In order to understand the reasoning behind this, the words of the then Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arinc, on the conversion of Hagia Sophia of Nicaea (Iznik Turkish) in 2011, are useful:
"With this act we have recovered the recognition of our ancestors. The Hagia Sophia of Iznik is the booty of our conquest and as such we have a right to it. A church can be converted into a mosque. "

From a Ramadan Mosque to a Permanent Imam

Last June, the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque during Ramadan for a month. This is only a first step, say observers. Since then, imams who entered the Basilica, were there to do two of the five Islamic daily prayers. Now the next step will take place. As the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported, a proposal was made jointly in Constantinople between the State Office for Religious Affairs and the Mufti of Fathi to nominate a permanent imam for the Hagia Sophia who will perform the five-day prayers daily.
With the appointment of Imam, conversion into a mosque is consummated fact, regardless of any  expressed decision.
For now there is still no response from the Greek Government and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Athens has criticized attempts at Islamicization in the past as an "insult to the religious sensibility of millions of Christians", which is all the more serious because these have been "undertaken by a country that wants to join the European Union."
In the European and overall in the international press it is difficult to find mention of these initiatives toward Islamicization. "Not a good sign," writes  Corrispondenza Romana.
Text: Andreas Becker
Image: Wikicommons / MiL
Trans: Tancred
Link to Katholisches...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Patriarch Bartholomaios I. Speaks Against the Use of Hagia Sophia as a Mosque

Rome / Istanbul (Catholic news / CBA). The Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I is opposed to a conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The late antique building was "built to bear witness to the Christian Faith," the honorary head of world Orthodoxy said, according to the Vatican Press Office Asianews (Thursday). "If it returns to serve a religion, it can be no other than the Christian one." Bartholomew   commented on the opening of a summit meeting with other Orthodox church leaders at his official residence in Istanbul, the Phanar. Several politicians had brought it into the conversation with a view to the local elections in late March in Istanbul, among others by the ruling AKP of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to re-use of the Hagia Sophia as an Islamic place of worship. The Ecumenical Patriarch called the Hagia Sophia a testimony to the "historical and continuing presence of Christian thought in this country." To the claims for reopening the building as a mosque, he said: "We stand against this, however, and with us, all Christians, whether Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant." Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th Century on the site of an earlier building under Constantine by the Emperor Justinian I (527-565), and it later served as the coronation church of Byzantine rulers. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, it was converted into a mosque. The founding president of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1934 ordered its conversion into a museum.

 Source: © CBA. All rights reserved
 Photo: Bartholomew I - Image source: Wikipedia / Massimo Finizio

  Link to Kathnews...

 Trans: Tancred


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Oldest Russian Church in Istanbul Threatened: Moisture and Large Turkish Projects

(Istanbul) On 2 August Christians gathered in the ancient Russian Elias chapel to celebrate the feast of the Old Testament prophets, according to the Julian calendar, the Catholic, Orthodox and Armenians commit it to the 20th of July. But in Turkey all Christian affairs are complicated. The chapel, which is located in the attic of a former monastery, may not be used for the liturgy for about 40 years. The Russian community of Istanbul, the ancient Constantinople, now wants to revive the chapel. The movement came into being as plans became known to demolish the former monastery and chapel.

In Istanbul there are three Rus Kiliseleri associated along ethnic lines. All three belong to the small Belarusian community on the Bosporus. And all three are in the possession of the monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, better known as Rossikon. However, they are administered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Elias chapel is the oldest of the three Rus-chapels Istanbul. It was built 135 years ago in the typical style of the 19th Century. As the Rossikon, the Russian monastery on Mount Athos of monastic Russian refugees was founded after the Mongol invasion, was the Elias chapel after the October Revolution of 1917 the spiritual center of the Russian exiles in the city.

Russian Elias chapel in the attic of a former monastery, which is now availed business.

The chapel houses frescoes, icons, traditional iconostasis, but the damage from moisture and lack of maintenance. The frescoes are largely lost. Preserved is a crucifix and a depiction of Christ near the altar. For the restoration 100,000 Turkish liras are estimated according Kazmir Pamir, spokesman for the Belarusian Association PAE Fukaraperver, says the Turkish press.

The Athos monks have a Turkish company for the repair. Exactly how and when the restoration is to be done, there are no details from Turkey. "The liturgy on the 2nd of August is the first step," said Pamir. "Maybe we can soon celebrate a baptism or a wedding. The Church is alive, she has just made another first breath."

The repair is not the only problem for the Belarusian community. How Kazmir Pamir explains the chapel in the Turkish official registers will be seen as business premises. In fact, the former monastery now houses shops and offices.

The chapel could soon fall victim to the Turkish construction boom. The city administration has a plan for a large project in Galataport on its desk that will transform the historical neighborhood of Karaköy radically, situated on the European shores of the Bosphorus. The project envisages the privatization of the existing port of Salipazari, the construction of a tourist harbor front, plus hotels and a large shopping center. The Dogus Holding is active in banking, construction and communication sector, has received the contract last May to implement the project, which is currently estimated at 702 million dollars.

Galata port is only one of several government projects whose the appearance is the sign of Istanbul tourism, large infrastructure and re-Islamization. These projects gave the initial impetus for the anti-Erdogan protests that erupted in May in Gezi Park and on Taksim Square. The Government remains committed to the projects and speaks of the "inevitable necessity" because of population growth and to stimulate the economy.

Efforts to rescue and repair of Elias chapel could also lead to a rapprochement between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Holy Mass on the 2nd August was celebrated as a Greek priest. "The Russian Church recognizes the authority of the Patriarch Barthalomeos over the chapels of Karaköy," says Kazmir Pamir.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
 Image: Vatican insider / Bora Arasan
Trans: Tancred

Link to katholisches...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shots Disturb Christians in Istanbul, Turkey

(Constantinople) At an Armenian church in Istanbul an unidentified man fired seven shots from his rifle on Sunday. Panic broke out among the believers who were gathered in the church for Easter.

The Turkish press reported that an intimidation campaign took place yesterday against Christian communities of Istanbul which concerns Surp Hovhannes about the Armenian Church. As the Armenian Archbishop Aram Atesyan said, the gunman threatened the Christians in the church, "You are too many!" As the Archbishop said, a young Armenian Christian was beaten on Sunday in front of another church in the nearby district Samatya. Other Christian communities of Istanbul were also victims of assault and intolerance in the past days.

In Atesehir a group of 40 people attacked the New Hope Lutheran Church on 27 April. They pelted the church with stones and smashed the stained glass windows. The next day, a group plundered the Greek Orthodox Church of Burgas Ada. All the incidents took place in Istanbul.

According to Archbishop Atesyan “with these attacks they want to stoke fear among the members of our communities” who in Turkey have been repeatedly victims of violence and discrimination in recent years. In 2006 the Catholic priest Andrea Santoro was murdered in Trabzon, in Malatya three Protestants in 2007 and 2010 in Antioch, the Catholic Bishop Padovese.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Christians in the East

Link to Katholisches...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Turkish Parliament Discusses Turning Hagia Sophia into a Mosque

(Ankara) The Islamization of Turkey through symbolic interference continues.  In the Turkish Parliament a debate has begun over a proposal regarding Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, of old Constantinople, to turn it into a mosque.  The proposal was proposed by Talip Bozkurt, a citizen of Kahramanmaras in Anatolia. The Hagia Sophia, the largest and most glorious Basilica in the East, was used for 916 years as a church, till the sack of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, when it was transformed into a mosque.  The typical Christian building style of the church is still unalterably visible.  In any event the church was accompanied by four minarets and the cross on the main dome was replaced by a half moon, to indicate Islamic occupation.

Since 1935, since the national Turkish government of Kemal Ataturk, the church was not a mosque, but a museum.  It counts today as the most visited museum in the world.  In its current form the church, erected in the 6th century is a magnet for people interested in art and culture.

The current petition committee of the Turkish Parliaments took the petition and seeks various organizations and institutions for a statement.  Various Islamic organizations, above all from Anatolia, are speaking out for the transformation to a mosque.  An Anatolian-Islamic youth organization is driving a campaign for it.

The application had been submitted, according to a decision of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan about another Christian church, called to transform the Hagia Sophia of Nicea again into a mosque, which had also been converted to a mosque after Ottoman conquest under Islamic rule and made a museum again under Attaturk. The Council of Nicea was held in the 1,700 year old Basilica in 787, where the Christians of East and West were united for the last time.  From 1331 to 1920 the church had been made into a mosque by the Rum Seljuks.  The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Bulent Arinc says that to convert the Nicene Hagia Sophia into a mosque: "In this act we have recovered the recognition of our ancestors.  Hagia Sophia of Iznik was booty of our conquest and as such we have a right to it.  A church can be converted into a mosque".

Bulent Arinc was also Erdogan's henchman, in the summer of 2012 in Trabzon, where another famous church of the same name on the Black Sea was again converted into a mosque, having previously suffered the same fate as the other two basilicas which were transformed into museums. The Hagia Sophia of Trebizond, whose model was the famous Constantinople, was built in its present form in the 13th century.  It served as the last of the three churches under Turkish dominance.  1511 led to its profanation and transformation into a mosque.  From 1916 the Christians of the Black Sea were victims of an anti-Christian genocide, which at the same time was aimed at the Christian Armenians as against the Georgians and the Greeks.

"The Turkish Government is making one step forwards and a step backwards in its dialog with minorities",  commented the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeus I in 2012 on the difficult situation of Christians in Turkey.

Link to katholisches...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Greek Orthodox Church Tells Patriarch: "Mind your own business"

Orthodox dignitaries published a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople

Constantinople (kathnews/RV)  The Orthodox Bishops of the land have decided against the "intermixing of the internal affairs" by the Ecumenical Patriarch.  At the meeting of the current Synod of Bishops in the last week, Orthodox dignitaries have directed a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  Therein they criticized an address by Bartholomaios I in March.  The Patriarch had asked the Greek Bishops to agree in one voice against the Greek Metropolitan.

He had engaged in a "tirade of hatred against the Pope, the Protestants and Ecumenicists".  Actually, the comment was "exaggerated" according to the Greek Bishops, on the contrary,  no Orthodox Bishop has the right to criticize another.  This contradicts the so-called territorial principle, coming from the notes of the current Synod.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Istanbul: Possible Attack Against Ecumenical Patriarch Thwarted

Editor: Good work by the Turkish police, and the individual who made this known to them, thus preventing it from happening.

Two youthful perpetrators are in custody.

Ankara ( The police have thwarted an attempt to attack one of  the most highly positioned Christian leaders in Istanbul, possibly against the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomaios I.   As the Turkish press reported on Monday, there were two suspects apprehended of the age of 17 and 18 .

Both men, who were armed when they were apprehended, explained afterward their intention that they wanted to become famous.  The media was expected to encourage parallel  murders of other Christians in Turkey, which would in any case have been encouraged by the youth.

The police were alerted about the plot through an anonymous E-Mail.  An acquaintance of the suspects alarmed the authorities that both young men wanted to murder an "important" Clergyman in the district of Fatih.  In Fatih, the Armenian Patriarch has his seat as does the Ecumenical Patriarch, the spiritual center of Orthodox Christianity.

A number of newspapers recalled the Priest Andrea Santoro, the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and three protestants in east Turkish Malatya, as well as a German missionary:  they were murdered by men between the ages of 16 and 20.

Read further... 

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Turkish Authorities Considering the Reopening of Hagia Sophia for Christian Worship

The director of the state sponsored Islamic Research Center has made a new proposal toward reopening buildings for religious purposes.

Ankara [] In the newly burning conflict surrounding Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, a leading adviser of the Turkish Religious Office has proposed that the historical Church should be open for Muslim prayers on workdays and for Christian Liturgies on Sundays. This could go a long way to solving the tug of war surrounding the Hagia Sophia which won't just be a comprise, said Mehmet Akif Aydin, director of the State sponsored Research Center (ISAM), to "Zaman" (Tuesday). One such solution would also reinforce the bonds between Muslims and Christians and the readiness of both faith communities to coexist more peacefully.

Although the Hagia Sofia has not been used for more than 80 years for religious purposes, more recently attempts of Islamic and Christian groups have advocated prayers or religious services under her domes.

The Church, built in the Fourth Century was for a millennium, the most important Church in Christendom. After the sack of Constantinople in 1453 by the Ottomans it served another 500 years as the most important mosque in the Ottoman Empire.

In the Turkish Republic the building served as a cultural monument since 1934. In order to avoid inter religious conflict, it has been since then no longer permitted to be used for religious purposes -- neither Christian nor Muslim.

Copyright 2010 Katholische Presseagentur, Wien, Österreich Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

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