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05/13/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sofia church, currently operating as a museum, is once again being threatened with transformation into a mosque. The Diyanet Bir-Sen (Religious and Foundation Employees’ Union) had this month called for the first Friday prayer after COVID-19 to be performed in Hagia Sofia. Then on May 9th, the Presidential Communication Director (Fahrettin Altun) tweeted how Hagia Sofia will eventually be made into a mosque.

Hagia Sofia is the spiritual home for Orthodox Christians worldwide and the church was built in 537 AD. When the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople (Istanbul), it was transformed into a mosque in 1453. Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and creation of modern Turkey, Hagia Sofia was turned into a museum in 1935. According to the law, it should be neither mosque nor church. However, Turkey constantly threatens to turn Hagia Sofia into a mosque and the president’s office has made several promises towards that effect. It is common for these statements to be accompanied by language which strengthens the Islamist identity that the ruling government uses to define itself, particularly in contrast to Christianity.

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