ANKARA, KOMPAS.com – The European Union, including Greece, France and the United States (US) have cast serious criticism of Turkey’s decision to turn the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque.
The decision raised concerns about the future of Hagia Sophia, which was once a place of worship for Christians and has become a UNESCO world heritage site.
Because of its status as a mosque, during the prayer service held therein, the Turkish government intends to close the image of Jesus, Our Lady and Christian saints with special technology using lighting techniques, as reported Greek City Times.
According to local media, special curtains will be used during the prayer. There is also a carpet will be spread on the floor that lights up to darken the room so that pictures of Christian teachings do not appear.
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In accordance with its function as a mosque, people who will enter Hagia Sophia must take off their shoes first.
The report came after Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin reassured on Friday that “loss of world heritage is not an issue” that Hagia Sophia was concerned about.
Launch News Agency Anatolia, Ibrahim Kalin stressed that, “Changing Hagia Sophia as a mosque does not mean holding tourists or even local and foreign tourists from their visit to the site.”
Turkey will also keep the unique icons of Christianity and the mosaic image of Jesus Christ on the site.
Also read: Hagia Sophia Officially Becomes a Mosque, Muslims Are Worshiped
Even so, Kalin did not elaborate further on this issue and sparked concern about the future of Christian shrines after the Turkish President’s decision on Friday.
Earlier, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk of the Russian Orthodox Christian Church warned last week that the mosaics of Jesus and Our Lady who were miraculously saved at the Hagia Sophia site were likely to be damaged if Ankara turned them into mosques.
Interviewed by the Media Russia 24, the leader of the Orthodox Christian Church said that he wanted to know what the mosaics would be like and how the Hagia Sophia would be if it were converted into a mosque again.
Also read: Hagia Sophia Becomes a Mosque Again, US Disappointed Ask to Still Be a Museum
His remarks came after the Supreme Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell deplored the steps of Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan who changed the status of Hagia Sophia.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Athens firmly condemned Turkey’s decision.
Erdogan’s decision, taken 85 years after Hagia Sophia was declared a museum, is an insult to his Christian Ecumenical character.