The Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, Patrik Sahak II, has joined the discussion over the potential re-transformation of the Hagia Sofia into a mosque, voicing his support for the proposal in a chain of tweets on Saturday.
“The Hagia Sophia should be opened to worship,” he said, stating that it is big enough for that purpose while suggesting a space for Christians. “Let the world applaud our religious peace and maturity. May Hagia Sophia become a symbol of the peace of humanity in our era.”
Sahak further stated that humanity was praying for such unity and so suggested sharing the dome of Hagia Sophia. “Even though our faiths are different, don’t we believe in the same God?”
Having been a place of worship for Christians for 1,000 years and another 500 for Muslims, he claims that Hagia Sophia won’t be minding it.
“Hagia Sophia was built with the labor of ten thousand works at an astronomical cost,” he said pointing out that for over 1,500 years numerous repairs have been done on the iconic building by the Fatih Sultan Foundation. He stressed that their aim was to preserve it as a place of worship. “Not just a museum.”
He said it would be more fitting as a place of worship where believers could kneel down in prayer in awe of the structure, rather than a touristic site full of visitors rushing around.
The Hagia Sophia, one of the world’s most significant historical and cultural heritage sites, was built in the sixth century at the time of the Christian Byzantine Empire and served as the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was converted into an imperial mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The structure was converted into a museum in 1935, during Turkey’s period of strictly secular single-party rule. However, in the time since, there has been much discussion over converting it back into a mosque, with public demand to restore it as a place of worship gaining traction on social media.
The issue of Hagia Sophia is one that caused much tension between Turkey and Greece recently.