INTERNATIONAL HELLENIC ASSOCIATION
Claymont, Delaware 19703
June 9, 2016
Members of the US Congress,
Members of the United Nations,
Members of the European Parliament
We the undersigned hereby call upon the civilized world to condemn the provocations of the Turkish Government that are directed against all Orthodox Christians. For three years, there have been ongoing threats by the government of Turkey to convert the historic Museum of Hagia Sophia back to a mosque as it had been in Ottoman times. The Great Church was seized upon following the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 and was converted to a mosque at that time after functioning as Christendom’s most important church for over 900 years. In 1934, Hagia Sophia was restored and converted into a Museum following much work carried out by Western scholars. Hagia Sophia’s theological, historical, and cultural relevance has been widely celebrated and has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
This planned conversion is first and foremost an assault upon the religious and ethnic sensitivities of the Greek Orthodox throughout the world. It is also an attack on the cultural and historic significance of Hagia Sophia as a Great Church which enables people of all faiths and nationalities to grasp the beauty and splendor of the Divine as attested to by the architecture of that magnificent building and its unsurpassed iconography.
We wish to remind the civilized world that the desecration of Hagia Sophia is more than just about the occupation of a building, It is also about the religious sensitivities of Christians that are being trampled upon. These actions undertaken at the behest and approval of the current Turkish Government foment religious and ethnic hatred against the remaining Christians in Turkey (Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Assyrian, Roman Catholic, Protestant) and serve as an unpleasant reminder of past horrors that were inflicted on Christian minorities.
We ask UNESCO and all the civilized governments and institutions of the world to unequivocally condemn these actions of the Turkish government. Hagia Sophia is very dear to the hearts, minds, and souls of the Christian communities of the world; but it is also vitally important to academics, historians, scholars and many others who cherish the museum status of the building. We appeal to you therefore to use your good offices to publicly condemn the actions of the Turkish Government regarding Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque.
These actions against the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum should be greeted with vigorous protests and condemnation as they are the results of profoundly disturbing and uncivilized policies that have no place in the 21st century.
We the Undersigned,
International Hellenic Association