Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday ordered another ancient Orthodox church that became a mosque and then a popular Istanbul museum to be turned back into a place of Muslim worship.
France 24 reports that 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 changes are portrayed as a reflection of Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters at a time when Turkey is suffering a new spell of inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
The moves, however, have added to Turkey’s problems with prelates in both the Orthodox and Catholic worlds.
Ottoman Empire historian Zeynep Turkyilmaz called the conversion “destruction” because the building’s walls are lined with Christian art that would have to be either covered up or plastered over — as it was by the Ottomans.