AP: Turkish Supreme Court opens door to Agia Sophia mosque, annuls decree that turned it into a museum

Ankara, July 10, 2020

Photo: hurriyet.com.tr Photo: hurriyet.com.tr     

Turkey’s highest administrative court issued a ruling today that paves the way for the icon Agia Sophia to be converted into a mosque once again, reports the Associated Press.

The AP reports:

The Council of State threw its weight behind a petition brought by a religious group and annulled a 1934 cabinet decision that changed the 6th century building into a museum. The ruling allows the government to restore the Hagia Sophia’s previous status as a mosque.

The decision was in line with the Turkish president’s calls to turn the hugely symbolic world heritage site into a mosque despite widespread international criticism, including from the United States and Orthodox Christian leaders.

The petitioning religious group argued that the building was the personal property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453, and thus President Kemal Ataturk had no legal right to convert Agia Sophia into a museum in 1934.

On July 2, the Council of State had ruled that President Erdoğan could change the status of Agia Sophia simply by presidential decree.

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Editor7/22/2020 3:35 pm
Dear Greek of Constantinople: Although we really enjoy your comments and value what you have to say, your discussion with Theodoros is getting too personal and heated. Could you leave out the personal attacks and tone it down? Thanks.
A Greek of Constantinople.7/22/2020 2:44 am
I'm still waiting for my reply to be posted.. What happened OrthoChristian?
Theodoros 7/20/2020 4:16 pm
It is ironic you use the name of Constantinople which was the capital of an Eastern Empire that was subsequently destroyed by the west in 1204 not the Ottoman Turks in 1453. I am not sure how to respond to your ravings about sneakers, ketchup, and cheeseburgers. This post makes even less sense than your previous outbursts. Why are you even visiting this site? This is an Orthodox site covering Church matters of which you neither care nor understand. You say you see everything from a geopolitical standpoint. You evidently have no idea what Orthodox ecclesiology and canon law has to say on what Bartholomew did in Ukraine and you still have the audacity to bash the Russians although anyone who understands what is happening views the Turkish citizen Bartholomew as the aggressor both in actual fact and by the teachings of Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church has as its head Jesus Christ. It is not a political party or an NGO. It is there for the salvation of souls and the purpose of evangelizing. The American State Department (incidentally I am an American citizen and have no idea why you think I am British) had no business asking the Greek Churches to bestow recognition on a group of defrocked and unordained lay people dressing up as bishops. This is blasphemous and highly offensive. You have made false assumptions about me. In turn, I assume that you are a secularist with no interest in Orthodoxy except for certain prophecies. I have the utmost respect and reverence for Saint Cosmas Aitalos and Saint Paisios who both taught many wonderful things other than Constantinople. These prophecies have to be kept in the greater context of the Gospel, holy tradition, and the patristic texts, and the Church's teachings in general. Some things you have said about Greece I agree, with others I do not. There are some of us who are Greek who are greatly offended by the secular world and its intrusions into Church matters. You use the name Constantinople and seem completely unfamiliar with the western role in the genocide of the Greeks in Asia Minor in 1922 and the ethnic cleansing of Greeks from Constantinople in 1955 and after. You refuse to respond to anything and proceed only with further outbursts. I can also assure you that I am not descended from "reds". Another unhinged outburst on your part. The Communists by the way slaughtered priests and faithful in Russia. Being under the influence of the Russophobia that has manifested itself you do not even understand contemporary Russia which by the miracle of God and the power of faith emerged from decades of the horror of communism. Present day Russia has more in common with ancient Constantinople than with communism which is itself a product of the west as are fascism and Nazism. Incidentally, how did the Syrian war work out for Greece? The US and Europe supported a war in Syria which flooded Greece with refugees. The US did not want to take the refugees but Greece got stuck with them so that Greece could undergo a process of Islamicization. NATO has also refused to intervene against Turkey's threats to invade the Greek islands. As an Orthodox Greek I view Russia a source of Christianity in a dark world that is becoming increasingly anti Christian. I have more regard for the building of Cathedrals and Monasteries in Russia than for the LGBTQ agenda and drag queen story hour which is manifesting itself in the west, not to mention the Marxist riots that have broken out in the US and parts of Europe. Russia flies the double headed eagle (a fact that someone who claims the heritage of Constantinople should appreciate) while people int the west increasingly fly the rainbow flag, the flag of modern paganism.
A Greek of Constantinople.7/19/2020 6:39 am
If you have complaints about the foreign policy of Greece, you should direct those complaints to the foreign ministry. I cannot help you. True it is not desirable or likable the game the West plays with Turkey for our interests but we have chosen the Western camp and alliance since the end of the second world war and alliances are very hard to change, especially when you are so integrated with the West (USA-EU-NATO). The vast majority of our military equipment comes from the West. Over a quarter of the Greek population lives in the West and travels back and forth. Our economic system is integrated with the West. Our opportunities to grow rely on the West. Our business and trade relies on the West. Most Greek companies have headquarters in Athens, London, and New York than Moscow. We Greeks think like Westerners. How many Greeks do you know who go to Moscow to study? Compare that to how many go to Oxford, NYU or Yale. I don't know how much of a basis these accusations of Russian intervention on Mt. Athos and the Greek Patriarchies have, but it seems as if the Church is pretty irritated for them to openly side against the Patriarchy of Moscow. So I simply comment on what I see through the geopolitical trends. If the American ambassador has meetings with them, that means that there is common interest. Besides, I have seen the Russian ambassador hold meetings with figures from the Church of Greece in the past. We are free to conduct foreign policy with whom ever we like, more so those who are our allies. In case you forgot we are a member of the EU and a member in NATO and that means we have obligations. I am sorry if you believe we made the wrong alliances and perhaps for you Russia is the best ally, but not for the vast majority of the Greeks. You remind me of those Greeks who stubbornly stick by the Palestinians who have been utterly useless for our national interests and support Turkey (much like Russia does today) and are against the military, economic, and political alliance we have brokered with Israel during the last ten years. Yet you expect me to say something against America, just like a staunch Palestinian supporter expects me to make a statement against Israel. Well, don't hold your breath.. Theodore. Aside from all that, my grandfathers fought against Stalin's Soviet communism both in Athens and the countryside during the civil war with American & British support. Previously, they fought against the Nazis along side the British and Americans across North Africa and Italy. After the civil war I had relatives who volunteered to fight the Communist Chinese in Korea again along side the Americans. As you see, my connection with the Americans is already a generation old and I have not even got down to myself yet. I dislike the Turks because it is natural as they are my eternal enemy.. Yes, I dislike the Germans for a wide variety of reasons, but also because were my grandfathers enemy. I dislike Greek communists and their Moscowphilia because they are very unlikable people and we happened to have fought a civil war. You don't happen to be descended from one of those "reds", do you now Theodore? But don't expect me to be dragged into this age old vendetta between Washington and Moscow. But if I was forced to choose, Theodrore, I would choose Washington DC beyond a shadow of a doubt. In case you have not noticed the English I use is American English and not British English. I don't say "lorry" I say truck. I don't say "trainers" I say sneakers. I don't say "chips" I say say fries. I don't say "biscuit" I say cookie.. and you bet I don't eat my cheeseburger with mayonnaise but ketchup. I am not made to be on the Russian camp as I don't like to wear ushankas, I like to wear baseball caps. I don't drink vodka, I drink Cuba-Libre.. Theodore.
Theodoros 7/17/2020 4:16 pm
To Greek of Constantinople, you have ignored many of the historical and other examples that I have mentioned. A dialogue requires actual discussion and back and forth. Look at the present plight of Greece and Cyprus. Greece has problems with Turkey threatening the islands and making claims on them. Greece has no rivalry with Russia. You are ignoring the fact that Greece SHOULD be a sovereign state. You think Greece should put its interests above all interests. I could not agree more. The problem here is that Greece (and by extension the Patriarchate and the Church of Greece) has sacrificed its independence to the dictates of America, NATO, and the EU. Two years ago, the US told Mount Athos to bar a Russian Bishop from visiting the Holy Mountain. What business do US officials (who are promoting anti Christian agendas around the world such as the lgbtq agenda) have in telling Greece who can and cannot visit the Holy Mountain? You say you are not friendly to foreigners. Foreigners such as Mike Pompeo and Geoffrey Pyatt instructed the Patriarchate and the Church of Greece to extend recognition to a group of lay people in Ukraine thus denigrating the canon laws of the Church and Orthodox ecclesiology. Greece needs to restore its sovereignty and the Church of God is not a political party or an NGO and should not be taking instructions from secular anti Orthodox interests. Since the nineteenth century, Russia is the only great power that has not intervened in Greek internal affairs (I am not referring to the Soviet Union). You have settled nothing in your arguments because you refuse to address issues that I have brought up and do not address any facts that you do not like. I will mention the Greek Bishops, priests, monastics, theologians, and lay people in Greece that have been very harsh on Bartholomew for his actions in Ukraine and his promoting of "unity" with the Latins. The previous Archbishop Christodoulos would never have allowed an American official to tell him what to do with Church affairs. Archbishop Christodoulos incidentally supported the Russian Church in Estonia and would have supported the Russians in Ukraine unlike the current cowardly Archbishop Ieronymos. And I am not suggesting Greece put itself under Russian influence. Greece should stop however being a western satellite. And Patriarch Bartholomew in thirty years has never expressed support for Greece or Cyprus. All of a sudden he discovered that he is Greek when it came time to wage war on the Russian Church. The same Patriarch who blessed the Turkish Army in 2018 when it was mobilizing to invade the Syrian Kurds.
A Greek of Constantinople.7/17/2020 10:35 am
Encyclopedia Britanica is remnant of the time before the internet, it contains many inaccuracies and scant information that barely makes it an encyclopedia. Maybe its good enough for the British, but not for us. In fact it is far worse than Wikipedia which has proven more trustworthy. That's not quite how it went down Ioan. Ibrahim started having failures and setbacks in his campaign by the time the three European powers sent their navy over (with strict rules to not intervene unless provoked). Besides that was in 1827.. 6 years after the revolution began. Had the we not succeeded for so many years, adding nails to the coffin of the Ottoman Empire that final nail in the coffin would not have been nailed. No aid would have been sent and what was sent was sent in the interest of those three powers who originally condemned the revolution. Also it is noteworthy to add that the French sent an expedition to take back territory claimed by Ibrahim.. If anyone has been actively helping and sending troops, training, and weapons, in modern Greek history.. That is the French. The British are a close second, but they come with dirty politics and obligations. Karaiskakis was of the French party.. So what Theodore that Kolokotronis was of the Russian party and Koletis of the British party.. More proof that the Greeks are divided among petty foreign interests. Also you must be familiar with Kolokotronis saying.. Which he states that he is neither an Anglophile, neither a Francophile, neither a Russophile, but a Theophile, because without God's will nothing would have happened. I am sure you have heard of that quote. I am one of those who do not like to see Greeks throwing support behind foreigners. Any foreigner for that matter. It sits unwell with me watching Greeks argue over who is supposedly our best friends. It is immature, servile and because it is servile it is not a Greek practice. I place no foreigners above my people, no one. I am friendly to no one. Neither will I ever be friendly to foreigners. The only ones Theodore we should care about is our own blood. I'm tired of the mentality some people have and their tenancy to look for foreign "saviors". This mentality was most prominent during the civil war, when many looked to the Soviet Union while many others looked to Great Britain and America. Stop being fools and useful idiots and look after yourselves and your own interests. This country can accomplish much with the right mindset, which would be Greeks placing nothing above the well being of the state and Greeks uniting to help each other for the common benefit and good of other Greeks. Essentially.. Love your state and love your blood. If every Greek followed this, we wouldn't have the problems we have today. As Ion Dragoumis put it.. "We are a nation without brothers". Just like the Jews are, they have not been fairing bad at all. Just like the Jews I think it is time to start looking after our own interest and forget any delusions and illusions stemming from the past. That is all I have to say. But you can keep trying to convince me otherwise. You are only wasting your time.. I think I have settled this for good, no?
Theodoros 7/16/2020 3:53 am
To Greek of Constantinople. First, I am Greek, but not a Cypriot. I am not sure where you are seeing anti Greek stuff on this particular site. This site has published material from Greek priests such as Theodore Zisis and Anastasios Gotsopoulos (outstanding priests and theologians). Also the work of theologian Demetrios Tselengidis. It reports the news such as the Greeks in Patra who blocked the Urkainian schismatics serving liturgy in the Cathedral of Saint Andrew the Apostle. it publishes the news good and bad. Are you familiar with Catherine the Great whose armies smashed the Ottomans in 1774 and forced them to accept equal treatment of Christians? In the Crimean War of 1853, the Greeks wanted to support the Russians but were occupied by Great Britain and France who forced their policies on Greece. I am not looking to exchange "shackles" as you put it. I am old school Constantinople. The school of Constantine and Justinian, Saint John Chrysostom, Phoitus the Great, Gregory Palamas, and Saint Mark of Ephesus. Modern Greeks such as General Theodore Kolokotronis (Greece's national hero) and the Monk-theologian Christophoros Papoulakos are some of my heroes both of whom held strong pro Russian sympathies. Kolokotronis was the leader of the Russian party in Greece. The real spiritual heritage of Constantinople which is alive in Orthodox Russia today. Incidentally, in 2004 when the Bush administration and the Blair government tried to force the Annan plan down the throats of the Cypriots at the UN it was the Russians who came to the rescue. President Putin in response to an appeal from the Archbishop of Cyprus instructed the Russian Ambassador to the UN to veto the Annan Plan which would have served as the basis for a Cypriot settlement and which would have forfeited all the rights and claims that Greek Cypriots are entitled to under the present UN demands for a settlement. In 2012, when the western world was denouncing ordinary Greeks as tax cheats and lazy, the Russian Orthodox Church raised money to help people in Greece who needed it an Patriarch Kyril gave those funds to Archbishop Ieronymos in Moscow. The Archbishop of Athens turned around six years later and stabbed the Russian Church in the back when it entered into communion with a group of unordained and defrocked lunatics. Does it not bother you that the State Department is using the Greek Churches as political weapons in their war on Russia? Is it not disgraceful that the Bishops of Greece betrayed the canons of the Church to comply with the unreasonable and unacceptable demands of Mike Pompeo and Geoffrey Pyatt?
Ioan7/16/2020 2:00 am
AGOC, I’ll let the Encyclopdeia Britannica tell you about the: “Battle of Navarino, (Oct. 20, 1827), decisive naval engagement of the War of Greek Independence against Turkey. The Turks, with assistance from Egypt, had gained the upper hand in the Greek Independence War, but then Britain, France, and Russia intervened, leading to the defeat of the Turkish and Egyptian navies in the last fleet action of the sailing-ship era. The Greek struggle for independence won considerable popular support in Britain and France; Russia was traditionally hostile to Turkey and sympathetic to its Orthodox coreligionists in Greece. Faced with the prospect of a Greek defeat and reports of massacres of the Greek population, the allied powers each sent a naval squadron to back up their calls for an armistice.” AGOC, I’m sure you do not speak for most Greeks when you expressed such disdain and ingratitude for the help of Britain, France AND Russia in winning independence.
A Greek of Constantinople.7/15/2020 11:45 pm
Yes, I am familiar with you Theodoros (the Cypriot) since we talked last year. Lets say we agree to disagree on reasons that have to do with Church law and authority in the Church. I already explained all this last year and I have not changed my mind. Lets save ourselves the trouble and time. You wonder why are so many Greeks anti-Russian. Well I wonder why so many Slavs are anti-Greek. Must be the weather, or perhaps the hundreds of articles and comments we have been reading for the past couple of years. It's one thing to be angry with Bartholomew, and an other to turn the issue into an ethnic feud. In this case, blood is thicker than water. We didn't turn it into an ethnic feud, but we gladly welcome the challenge as ethnic feuds is one of our favorite sports. The damage done already will take several generations to be repaired and I am not looking to exchange shackles like you are, but I am looking forward on breaking them by extracting our natural gas and oil. This alone goes against Russian interests, and along with Israeli interests. It is no wonder we developed a military alliance with Israel during the past decade. As for the Russians, we have not forgotten their "support" during the Orlov Revolt just like they have not forgotten Ukraine. Can you guess how many Russian volunteers fought during the Greek Revolution? I'll answer.. Zero. Yeah you will tell me about Navarino, and I will answer.. In Navarino there was Great Britain and France as well.. and had some idiotic Turk not fired a shot against a British ship, the whole story would have turned out differently.
Theodoros 7/13/2020 4:28 pm
To Greek of Constantinople, I am a Greek also and more than familiar with the atrocities of the Turks over the centuries. Many of those atrocities (Asia Minor 1922, the anti Greek pogroms in Constantinople 1955) were perpetrated with the assistance of the western powers. For example, after the pogroms in Constantinople in 1955 the State Department refused not only to criticize or condemn Turkey but it threatened to cut off aid to Greece. Archbishop Spyridon of Athens at the time noted that if Russia had been Orthodox and not communist at the time the Turks would not have dared carry out those pogroms. Furthermore, the Russian Church at the time under Patiarch Alexy I condemned the attacks against the Church of Constantinople. Can you explain to me why large numbers of Greeks are so inherently anti Russian? This makes absolutely no sense to me. During the Ottoman centuries the Russians intervened on behalf of Greek and other Christians in the Ottoman Empire. There was a limit as to what the Russians could do since Great Britain and France always supported the Turks over the Russians. Patriarch Bartholomew has colluded with the State Department against the Russian Church. He has colluded with the people whose predecessors are largely responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Greeks from Constantinople and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos which is why the Patriarchate has a flock in Turkey which barely exists. The Churches of Alexandria and Greece, like Constantinople have made themselves complicit in both the schism that now exists in Orthodoxy (to placate Mike Pompeo and Geoffrey Pyatt) and in the persecution of the canonical Church in Ukraine. I also am angered by the Turkish effort to make Hagia Sophia a Mosque. But I am also angry at the persecution of the Ukrainian Church and the loss of Churches that it has suffered at the hands of the schismatics who have no valid ordinations or consecrations. The Greek world needs to get its act together by breaking with the fake bishops of Ukraine and reconciling with Moscow and the canonical Church in Ukraine. Greece above all needs to regain its sovereignty and stop taking orders from Washington.
A Greek of Constantinople.7/13/2020 1:00 am
You John and Ioan want a reply? Fine you will have your reply. You who point to my quote of St. Kosmas to criticize me are ignorant of the history of this land and the current trends with the Turks. You do not live next to them. You were not raised with the constant threats of a genocidal jihadist state directed at you on a daily basis. You live comfortably in your own delusions of a tolerant utopia, far away from any real conflict zone with real problems and real suffering. You have not been repeatedly attacked, insulted, provoked and threatened by them, and that is why you speak from a safe distance with your Christian morality and your convenient human ethics. What Erdogan has simply done is made the public face and mindset of Turkey known to the rest of the world. Everyone has seen their chronic condition of jihadist depravity, blood lust and barbarity. We have known this face for centuries. The Turk cannot change, and will not change. Realize that. He remains a barbarian living in a seventh century mindset and he is provocatively very proud of all atrocities committed by his mongoloid ancestors. I don't need no prophecy or prophets to know what is coming to the Turks. The wrath for centuries of mass murder and oppression have overflowed the cup of wrath ten times over. The beheadings, rapes, vandalism and sheer brutality you saw yesterday in Cyprus and today in Syria and the Kurdish regions, the ongoing systemic oppression of the repeatedly genocided Christian minorities, the vandalism and destruction of their centuries old cultural heritage, and the constant threats of expansionism and provocations on modern sovereign states, is reason enough to punish them. Your approach and mindset is flawed and weak. The more you ignore and try to appease the Hun, the more emboldened the Hun becomes. The Hun does not think like you, he is wired differently. Do you not believe there is a time when they will be brought to justice for their repeated and accumulated crimes? Perhaps you believe we are weak and stupid enough to wait for them to come and ethnically cleanse us in our homelands. We are very well prepared, trained, and equipped to do what we must do when that time comes. I need no Saints or prophets to tell you that it will come. Centuries old justice will be administered. Now do you understand why St. Prophyrios advised St. Paisios to not speak about these things? We are past the point of conversation or reasoning and there is no coming back. "No justice. No peace".. You heard of this before, haven't you?
Ioan7/11/2020 3:50 pm
Question to A Greek from Constantinople: Agia Sophia was previously an Ottoman mosque for almost 500 years (1453-1935). What is it about its conversion from a museum (which by the way, is a secular institution and still not a functioning Orthodox Church) in July 2020 that has now triggered the wrath of God?
John7/11/2020 3:36 pm
Wars, calamities and upcoming events are the ultimate remedy to human apostasy, which is why Elder Porphyrios would say: "The Apocalypse was written for it not to happen.” The Apocalypse has as its purpose to alert, and the way to avoid it is to serve the unity which Christ left to us as a legacy. This is the therapeutical treatment to the sick, because if the sickness progresses, the events of the Apocalypse will be the amputation caused by the physician when gangrene sets... [Elder Porphrios] would say: "We need to ask that His mercy comes, not His wrath." I believe Elder Porphyrios would answer: "Saint Kosmas Aitolos, who is a great Saint of Orthodoxy, said: 'They will try to resolve it with the pen, but will not be able to. 99 times with war, and once with the pen.' However, us, we are with the pen.” From: http://orthochristian.com/58060.html
John7/11/2020 3:25 pm
A Greek of Constantinople should know what St. Porphyrios said to St. Paisios about such a bloodthirsty prophecy: “My beloved Father Paisios, what happened to you? If Constantinople will be freed or not, this is the concern of the politicians and of the military rulers, and not of the monks nor even the archpriests. If the Antichrist will come, this must be the concern of the archpriests and it is their duty to inform the people. And when that time comes, God will provide us with illumined archpriests who will in turn illumine the people. We the monks, if we are members of the priesthood, we need to liturgize for the salvation of the entire universe. And if we happen to be simple monks, we need to weep over our sins. Now because of my love for you, and knowing how much you love Christ, I am giving you a rule not to talk about these things again ...”
A Greek of Constantinople.7/11/2020 6:14 am
“In Constantinople so much blood will be spilled that a three-year old calf will swim in it.” - St. Kosmas Aitolos. And swim it shall! Tick-tok, tick-tock.
John7/11/2020 12:44 am
The monk Gennadius said this at the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: “In losing your faith, you will lose your city.” Now in July 2020, Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul), loses Agia Sophia - a second Fall - for the same cause.
John7/10/2020 8:15 pm
To the Patriarch of Constantinople who brought this disaster upon himself and has thus further wounded our Church beyond the schisms that he has already precipitated: “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.”
Joseph Bell7/10/2020 6:52 pm
Hagia Sophia is a Christian church. The Muslim religion thinks that it is Orthodox. This is wrong. God's promise was to Abraham and Sarah, not Abraham and Hagar. Obedience to God supersedes nominal human justice. God's love extends to all people.
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