State Department makes statement over conversion of Chora church

State Department makes statement over conversion of Chora church

The US Department of State is aware of Turkey’s conversion of another historical Byzantine church into a mosque, and urges the government to “respect” the “diverse histories” of heritage sites that have hosted different religious communities.

“We are aware that the Chora Museum, a World Heritage Site, has been reopened as a mosque, and we refer you to the Turkish government for further details,” a spokesperson for the State Department said in response to the question from the state-run Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA) on Wednesday. 

“We encourage the Turkish government to preserve and ensure access to sites and buildings that have hosted different religious communities in a way that respects their diverse histories,” the spokesperson, who was not named, added.

Turkey formally converted the Byzantine-era Church of St Savior in Chora, known as Kariye in Turkish, into a mosque in 2020, soon after it similarly turned Istanbul’s landmark Haghia Sophia into a Muslim house of prayer.

The site, however, was formally inaugurated as a mosque by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, a day after Greek Orthodox Easter, drawing criticism from Athens and the Church.

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