The Hellenic Society Prometheas strongly condemns Turkish President Erdogan’s action that converts Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque. This deplorable act, announced on July 10, 2020 by President Erdogan, has shocked and saddened the entire world and prompted criticism by religious and political leaders, academic institutions and cultural organizations worldwide.
Built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in 537 A.D., Hagia Sophia is widely regarded as the foremost example of Byzantine Christian architecture in the world and is of immense historical value. Ιn 1972, Hagia Sophia was declared by UNESCO as a museum and world cultural monument. Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay described the building as “an architectural masterpiece, and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue.” As Prof. Judith Herrin of King’s College wrote in an article in the Washington Post, “converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque is an act of cultural cleansing that threatens Turkish minorities and the country’s secular character. Hagia Sophia belongs to the world.”
The action by the Turkish leader is an affront to the Turkish people, to Erdogan himself – who won his first Premiership with the promise to modernize Turkey. We at Prometheas, as a Greek cultural organization in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, urge President Erdogan to reverse his decision and maintain the status of Hagia Sophia as a UNESCO world heritage site.
On behalf of the Board,
The Hellenic Society Prometheas