The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) welcomed a comment by Ambassador Sam Brownback, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, asking the Turkish government to preserve the integrity of the Hagia Sophia.
“We greatly appreciate Ambassador Brownback’s and the State Department’s repeated statements on the need to respect Hagia Sophia’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage site,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said.
“The Erdogan regime’s threats towards the Hagia Sophia, and more broadly, religious minorities, are deeply concerning. Turkey’s historical mistreatment of religious minorities violate fundamental human rights, religious freedom, and US law.”
In the June 25 tweet, Ambassador Brownback stated Hagia Sophia “holds enormous spiritual and cultural significance to billions of believers of different faiths around the world,” and called on the government of Turkey to maintain it as a UNESCO World Heritage site and “to maintain accessibility to all in its current status as a museum.”
Ambassador Brownback’s statement came after a 2019 report by the State Department on International Religious Freedom on Turkey which criticized the Turkish government’s mistreatment of religious minorities, such as Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Greek Orthodox Christians.