05/18/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The historic Byzantine-era church, Hagia Sophia, which now stands as a mosque, was vandalized in mid-April. Experts commented and feared for the future of the building without proper maintenance and protection.
The Hagia Sophia, built as a Christian Orthodox cathedral in 537, was converted to a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1935. Turkish authorities converted it back to a mosque in 2020 and held its first Islamic prayers during Ramadan of this year.
“The current management [Department of Religious Affairs] has no real appreciation for the structural and environmental ‘risk factors that might compromise this enormous but so very fragile building,’” Al-Monitor reported via an Istanbul reporter. After the historic church was removed from the care of the Ministry of Culture, the building lost its expert staff that maintained the operating museum.
In July 2021, UNESCO reported that it would consider removing the Hagia Sophia’s world heritage status due to Turkey’s refusal to fulfill a report request on the building’s condition.
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