Turkey will not dare turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, says Greek archbishop

Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece, primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece, said on Sunday that Turkey would not “dare” turn the centuries-old monument Hagia Sophia into a mosque, Kathimerini newspaper reported.

During a televised interview, the archbishop said Turkey was “playing whatever games are in hand,” and that the monument, currently serving as a museum after its conversion into a mosque upon Istanbul’s Ottoman conquest, would not be returned to its status as a mosque.

Following a Quran recital inside the 6th century monument in late May on the anniversary of the conquest, the Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stepped up moves to open it to worship as a regular mosque. Turkey’s top administrative court, the Council of State, said last week that it will make a ruling on the matter within 15 days.

Greece and the Greek Orthodox Church have strongly spoken out against the possibility of conversion for one of the most significant cathedrals for the Orthodox faith, urging Turkey to maintain the UNESCO World Heritage Site as it stands, and warning against inter-religious tensions.

Last week, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said a conversion would “disappoint millions of Christians around the world”.

The Russian Orthodox Church also joined the conversation on Saturday, with a senior official telling Russian news agency Interfax that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque would be “unacceptable”.