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 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.
The court decision was followed quickly by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that the UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul would be reopened for Muslim worship.
The decision “shows that all pleas regarding the need to handle the situation extremely delicately were ignored,” said Legoida, who heads the Church department that liaises with media.
The Russian Orthodox Church previously urged caution over calls to alter the status of the historic former cathedral, and Russian Patriarch Kirill said he was “deeply concerned” about such a potential move and called it a “threat to the whole of Christian civilisation”.