Athens.- A US-based group dedicated to fully restoring the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a place of worship again brought its international campaign to Athens on Thursday, with the head of the group, noted Greek-American leader Chris Spirou, releasing a letter sent to Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the subject.
Spirou, who heads the New Hampshire-headquartered Free Hagia Sophia Council of America, spoke to reporters from the European Parliament’s liaison offices in Athens, where he said the letter towards Erdogan, requesting rehabilitation of the pre-eminent Christian Orthodox cathedral, was also communicated to Pope Benedict XVI, UN chief Ban Ki-moon and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, as the current chairman of the EU Council.
The organisation also unveiled a series of photographs taken inside the Hagia Sophia, which today serves as a top museum and tourist attraction in Istanbul, depicting what it called improper art and fashion exhibitions as well as art bazaars and even “happenings”.
“It is a shame, in the civilised world of 2008, for Hagia Sophia to be transformed into a sanctuary for vermin, pigeon-feeding and as an exhibition hall for cheap art and products,” Spirou, a former head of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire and one-time gubernatorial candidate in that state, stressed.
Chris Spirou was born in the town of Porti in the Prefecture of Karditsa, Province of Thessaly, Greece and migrated in 1956, at the age of 13, to the United States of America. He is a graduate of Saint Anselmʼs College, Manchester, New Hampshire and holds a Masterʼs Degree in Urban Studies and Social Change from Goddard College, Vermont.
Mr. Spirou lectured on “Process of Practical Politics” at several institutions of higher learning, including Harvard and Dartmouth Universities and has taught the course as an adjunct Professor at New Hampshire College.
His political career started in 1970 when he was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
In a short time, he rose to become the House Democratic Leader in the New Hampshire House. In 1984, Chris Spirou was the Democratic Nominee for Governor in New Hampshire.