Members of the Universal Christian youth have called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to maintain the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum.
Representatives of the Universal Christian youth from the USA, Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Germany, Georgia, Armenia, Greece, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus, attended an online meeting on Saturday, 4 July, on the matter of Hagia Sophia. They stressed the importance of preserving the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum and highlighted the enormous value and symbolism of the church as a World Heritage Site.
“Hagia Sophia is not just a cultural monument, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a complex site, interwoven in the history of the city that determined the future of the world, with various religions, and peoples from different countries who suffered the same fate,” they said.
Moreover, they added, “The fact that a Muslim country has a Christian shrine in its territory, the”Mecca” of all Christians, and that it maintains it with due care, this is precisely the greatest indication of the historical role of the leader of a country,” they said.
They also highlighted that Erdoğan was involved in maintaining the status of the Panagia Sumela Monastery as a museum and added that the monastery’s accessibility allowed people from all over the world to “get in touch with the history of the holy site and of the area of Trabzon and it created a tourist flow.” They concluded: “Your decision to maintain the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum can be of historical importance. People need today, more than ever, symbols of peace, peace of mind, tolerance and multiculturalism. We request peace and interfaith harmony. We pray for the fate of Hagia Sophia, one of the most important cultural monuments worldwide.”