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09/04/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – A Turkish Islamic Foundation has demolished the St. Georgios Greek Orthodox Church in Busra this week after neglecting it for seven years. It is also known as the Hagia Sophia of Bursa.

The church was built in the late 1800s but converted into a mosque following the compulsory Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923. This exchange forced families to relocate. Orthodox living in Turkey were moved to Greece, and Muslims living in Greece were moved to Turkey. It is an exchange that has left deep scars across both societies. This church was converted to a mosque to serve the newly arrived Muslims.

In 2006, the church was reopened as a cultural center. The mayor’s ancestors were also those who were exchanged, and the center became a way for those descendants on both sides to reconnect with their history. However, the building was taken over in 2013 by the General Directorate of Pious Foundations.

The Nilüfer Municipality made several attempts to reclaim this structure and ask for renovation, but each attempt failed. The Islamic Foundation argued that since it was once a mosque it could not be used for any other purpose. However, the foundation never used the structure as a mosque during the past 7 years and the building became severely neglected.

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