Turkey converts another former Istanbul church into a mosque

Transformation of Kariye Museum comes a month after a controversial conversion of the renowned Hagia Sophia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered another ancient Orthodox Church that became a mosque and then a popular Istanbul museum to be turned back into a Muslim place of worship.

The decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque came just a month after a similarly controversial conversion for the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia. The decree on the issue was published in Turkey’s official gazette on Friday.

The 1,000-year-old building’s history closely mirrors that of the Hagia Sophia – its bigger neighbour on the historic western bank of the Golden Horn on the European side of Istanbul.

The Holy Saviour in Chora was a medieval Byzantine church decorated with 14th-century frescoes of the Last Judgement that remain treasured in the Christian world.

It was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.

It became the Kariye Museum after World War II as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.

A group of American art historians then helped restore the original church’s mosaics and opened them up for public display in 1958.

However, Erdogan has in the past few years placed a greater emphasis on the battles that resulted in the defeat of Byzantium by the Ottomans.

Turkey’s top administrative court approved the museum’s conversion into a mosque in November.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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