Yet another sign of Turkey’s rapid re-Islamization. The site has been a museum since 1946, per a ruling by the secular Turkish government. But secularism in Turkey is now on its way out. “Istanbul monastery to become mosque,” from the HÃ¼rriyet Daily News, November 26 (thanks to Twostellas):
The largest Byzantium monastery in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque after its restoration next year.
The Monastery of Stoudios, also known as the Ä°mrahor Monument, will be turned into a mosque and be titled Ä°mrahor Ä°lyas Bey Mosque. The renovation of the mosque, which forms part of the Hagia Sophia Museum, will follow the same fate as that of Hagia Sophia churches in Trabzon and Ä°znik, which had been already turned into mosques.
“I wouldn’t like to speak as a member of a council but my personal opinion is that cultural heritage shouldn’t be reflected as an antagonistic heritage. If we reflect it like this, it will damage societies on a macro level,” said Laki Vingas, acting as representatives of the Directorate General of Foundations.
Vingas added that the issue creates grief within society, and it was not only the Greek community”s problem.
“Cultural heritage is universal heritages, meaning that they are humanity”s common heritage,” he said.
Ä°mrahor’s conversion into a mosque came at a time debate continues as to whether to reopen Hagia Sophia as a place of worship. Most recently, Deputy Prime Minister BÃ¼lent ArÄ±nÃ§ has expressed his hope to see the Hagia Sophia to be used as a mosque.
Vingas said: “My personal view is that when you are trying to create a new vision you should be careful not to create new problems for the future.”
The Monastery, which dates back to the fifth century, was the most important monastery of Istanbul during the Byzantium era, also serving as the center of Byzantine intelligentsia. The basilica was converted to a mosque, during the period of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II. After two major fires in the 18th and 19th centuries, the monastery was mostly destroyed. In 1946, it was turned into a museum in line with a ministerial cabinet decision.