Just a month after the reopening of Hagia Sophia to a Muslim worshiping place, Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, converted the historic Chora Church into a Mosque this Friday.
The Holy Saviour’s Mediaeval Church, located in Chora, is established closer to the ancient walls of Constantinople. It maintains the Byzantine mosaics and frescoes of the 14th century revealing biblical story scenes.
After the city was conquered in 1453 by the Muslim Ottomans, they got plastered. However, it emphasized again when similar to Hagia Sophia, the building got transformed into a museum by the secular republic of Turkey, before even more than 70 years.
Erdogan’s AK Party is deeply rooted in political Islam and has made him become a champion among the pious Muslims of Turkey. Also, last month gathered millions of Muslims in the very first prayers at the Hagia Sophia, in 86 years.
Church leaders and a few western nations criticized his move and stated that transforming Hagia Sophia mainly for Muslims risked deep religious rifts.
In the previous year, a Turkish court annulled Kariye, which is the 1945’s government decision of transforming Chora, into a museum operated by the Education Ministry.
This Friday, Erdogan signed an edict which got published in Turkey’s official gazette stated:
The management of the Kariye Mosque be transferred to the Religious Affairs Directorate, and (the mosque) opened to worship.
In the 4th century, the first church was created in the area but, a lot of prevailing building dates for the church of the 11th century were partially redeveloped 2 centuries later because of an earthquake.
The edict didn’t state that from when Muslims would start praying at Chora or what kind of arrangements are planned for the Christian artworks.
Curtains have been drawn in front of an image belonging to the infant Jesus and Mary at the Hagia Sophia.