Letter to Mrs. Irina Bokova

Director-General  UNESCO

July 6, 2016

To: Irina Bokova

Director-General

UNESCO  Paris

Dear Mrs. Bokova,

Having been made aware that UNESCO will be meeting in Istanbul between July 10 and 20, we appeal to you directly to raise with the authorities the issue regarding the status of the World Heritage site of Hagia Sophia. As is well known, the Turkish authorities intend to gradually convert Hagia Sophia from a museum into a Mosque. We believe UNESCO has a responsibility to protest these intentions of the Turkish government.
As has been widely publicized, Hagia Sophia has been used for the performance of Islamic prayers since the beginning of Ramadan.Furthermore, since July 1, Hagia Sophia has been used for the first time since 1931 as a call to prayer. Over the past two years, large crowds have frequently gathered outside Hagia Sophia to perform their prayers. UNESCO officials have denied any sort of intentions by the Turkish authorities to transform Hagia Sophia into a Mosque despite the mounting evidence since 2013, including public statements made by Turkish officials.
We wish to remind you that Hagia Sophia was established as a Cathedral of the Greek Orthodox Church during the sixth century and was used as such until 1453, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople. Hagia Sophia must be protected not only for historic reasons, but also because it is a holy site for Orthodox Christians. As a World Heritage Site, Hagia Sophia must be protected by UNESCO. It should be noted that Turkey has already converted three former Church-Museums named Hagia Sophia into Mosques. It has been fairly obvious based upon these trends what Turkey’s plans for Hagia Sophia have been, not withstanding UNESCO’s denial.
Therefore, since UNESCO will be convening in Turkey in the coming days, we ask from the organization to put a protest forward to oppose any further use of Hagia Sophia for purposes that threaten its present status as a Museum.

 

Thank You,

International Hellenic Association

25 thoughts on “Letter to Mrs. Irina Bokova

  1. Dear Mrs. Bokova,
    As all the world knows, Hagia Sophia was established as a Christian Cathedral during the sixth century and was used as such until 1453, when the Ottomans destroyed much of Constantinople. Hagia Sophia must be protected not only for historic reasons, but also because it is a holy site of huge significance for all Christians; especially, Orthodox Christians. The world expects you, as the Head of the UNESCO, to do all you can to protect such a unique World Heritage Site as The Hagia Sophia. It should be noted that Turkey has already converted three former Church-Museums named Hagia Sophia into Mosques. Your action is urgent; all the world is waiting and watching.
    With due respect,
    Dr. Tom Papadopoulos
    r. Senior Research Scientist
    Government of Canada, and
    former University Professor (in Greece and Canada)

  2. Dear Mrs Bokova,

    Please Do the best you can, to keep Hagia Sophia as the World Heritage Monument that it is ,for the whole world to enjoy and avoid unnecessary friction.
    Respectfully I thank you

    Dr Panayiotis Baltatzis MD
    Gen.Secretary of HANC
    (Hellenic American National Council)

  3. It is sad and disappointing that UNESCO has voiced no concern for the invasion of a world cultural monument bu in reality an Icon of worship for the world’s Orthodox Christians. We ask that from this point onward UNESCO respects its agreements and demands respect from the Turkish government towards the few remaining Christian monuments left standing.

    Ellene Phufas-Jousma, Professor
    SUNY ERIE
    Dept. Of English
    Buffalo NY

  4. Dear Mrs. Bokova,

    Please do your best efforts, to protect our heritage and keep Hagia Sophia as a holy site of huge significance for all Christians.

    Respectfully thank you,

    Athina Filippou-Katehis
    Administrative Assistance
    District Office of Education
    Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
    New York, NY

  5. Dear Mrs. Bokova,

    Please do you best to keep Hagia Sophia open and accessible. Geek culture should not be minimized in its importance, at all. As a Greek American, I’m proud to say that I have direct roots that come from the origins of democracy and culture, and those roots are much older than those of colonial pilgrims! Anything that reflects the traditions and cultural importance that is offered through Greek heritage should never be forgotten.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Barbara Bowersox, DDS
    Westminster, Maryland

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