A decision by Turkey to turn the former Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque is an "open provocation to the entire civilized world," Greece said Friday.
“The nationalism displayed by (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan... takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.
Erdogan’s announcement that the UNESCO World Heritage site would be handed over to Turkey's religious affairs directorate came after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century landmark's status as a museum.
Mendoni said the court ruling “absolutely confirms that there is no independent justice” in Turkey.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, last month warned that turning Hagia Sophia back into a mosque would “turn millions of Christians around the world against Islam.”
The United States had warned against the move, as had Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox church.
Ankara ignored ‘millions of Christians,’ says Russian church
The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday expressed dismay at Turkey’s decision to revoke the museum status of the iconic Hagia Sophia, accusing it of ignoring voices of millions of Christians.
“The concern of millions of Christians were not heard,” Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida told Interfax news agency after a top court revoked the sixth-century Byzantine church building's status as a museum, in order to return it for Muslim worship.
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