Historic Hagia Sophia vandalized | Persecution

18/05/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The historic Byzantine-era church, Hagia Sophia, which now stands as a mosque, was vandalized in mid-April. Experts have commented and fear for the future of the building without proper maintenance and protection.

The Hagia Sophia, built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in 537, was converted into a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1935. Turkish authorities converted it back into 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 of the “structural and environmental risk factors that could jeopardize this huge but very fragile building”, Al-Monitor reported through an Istanbul reporter. After the historic church was removed from the care of the Ministry of Culture, the building lost its expert staff who kept the museum running.

In July 2021, UNESCO indicated that it would consider withdrawing Hagia Sophia’s World Heritage status due to Turkey’s refusal to respond to a request for a condition report on the building.

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