Phanar hierarch: Converting Hagia Sophia to mosque is a try to scare Phanar
The New Jersey Metropolitan condemned the statements of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, calling his intentions to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque a "heinous act."
The New Jersey Metropolitan Evangelos (Kourounis) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the United States believes that Turkey’s statements about turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque are attempts to intimidate Phanar, the website Vima Orthodoxias reports.
In a special circular issued on July 2, 2020, His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos stated that "the Turkish government, ignoring history and trying to threaten the Christian minority living in Turkey, again puts forward a proposal to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque."
The representative of Phanar in the USA is sure that the desire of the Turkish authorities to change the status of Hagia Sophia is "unthinkable for Orthodox Christians" and can be described "only as a deliberate step of Turkey to intimidate Christian minorities, and in particular the Mother Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople."
According to Metropolitan Evangelos, “such actions testify that the Turkish government does not intend to recognize and respect the history of the native Greeks of Constantinople, whose historical origin dates back to the 4th century AD, as well as the history of all Orthodox Christians, but, on the contrary, clearly show the intentions to completely eradicate our faith and our history.”
On behalf of the New Jersey Metropolitanate, the hierarch condemned the rhetoric by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, calling his intentions to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque a "heinous act".
In addition, according to the representative of Phanar in the United States, a change in the status of the Hagia Sophia Church will be an evident example of "religious persecution and cultural genocide against the community, which has been persecuted by the Turks for centuries."
However, he says, “despite the desperate efforts of these intolerant people, we firmly believe that our Orthodox faith will not be uprooted from this region, and Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, will not be expelled from the country of our ancestors despite centuries-old actions of certain governments.”
The hierarch is confident that “our people are not intimidated by hostile threats aimed at erasing our faith, history and culture.”
Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the Secretary General of the Turkish National Action Party believes that the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople about the authorities' intention to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque can be interpreted as a “preliminary announcement” of attacks on Muslims.