President Tayyip Erdogan has again turned Turkey’s historic church, the Chora church, into a mosque.
President of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, has again turned a historic church in Turkey into a mosque. After Hagia Sophia, now it is the turn of the Chora museum. Chora Church is one of the most famous Byzantine era buildings in Istanbul. The Holy Savior Church in Chora, built near the walls of the ancient city of Constantinople, contains mosaics and frescoes of 14th century Byzantine-era biblical stories.
The building was closed after the city of Istanbul was taken over by Ottoman Muslims in 1453 but it was converted into a museum by Turkey’s secular government 70 years ago. Last year, a Turkish court overturned a government decision in 1945 that turned Chora into a museum run by the Ministry of Education. Chora is called Kariye by Turks.
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Turkey’s highest administrative court approved the conversion of the museum into a mosque in November last year.
The sand-colored structure seen today, was a replacement for a building created as part of the monastery in the fourth century when Constantinople was the new capital of the Roman Empire. In addition, a mosque with a minaret and a small multi-storey dome may look like a large mosque that mumbles the call to prayer in Istanbul, but when you enter the building, you will see the paintings on the walls and magnificent mosaics that represent the best Byzantine artworks in Christian history.
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It is known that the Erdogan administration’s hard efforts were made to reconcile the two histories of Turkish civilization that formed the foundations of the country’s contemporary political and social life. This conversion has clearly come under criticism from several high-ranking state officials such as one of the opposition HDP party lawmakers, Garo Paylan, in a Tweet he said the change was “an embarrassment for the country”.
“One of the symbols of multicultural identity that has been sacrificed in our country and the multi-religious history of our country,” he said in his Tweet, quoted from Indiatimes.com, Saturday, August 22, 2020.
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However, several other residents supported this transformation.
“There are dozens, hundreds of churches, synagogues in Istanbul and only a few are open for prayers as mosques,” said Yucel Sahin as he strolled around the building. “There is a lot of tolerance in our culture.”