Following his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Archbishop Elpidophoros, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, gave a brief video interview to the Associated Press to discuss the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Elpidophoros, a Turkish citizen who has spent most of his life in the shadow of the massive basilica, was critical of Turkey’s “mentality of the conqueror” and decision to convert what has been a museum for almost a century into a Muslim house of worship.
“If the greatest and most important Christian monument of the Eastern Christianity is converted to a mosque, this hurts the feeling of everybody,” the archbishop said. “[This hurts] not only from a religious point of view, but at the same time it raises for us concerns about the future of the minorities in Turkey.”
Elpidophoros said that converting the UNESCO World Heritage site into a mosque causes a division among Turkey’s citizens who will remain categorized as the “conquerors” versus the “conquered” — a situation he called “dangerous” for Christian, Jewish and other minorities.
The archbishop used similar words to criticize the Turkish government’s decision in an interview with Al Arabiya’s English edition.
“When the state endorses the mentality of the conqueror, saying that ‘It’s my conquered right to have Hagia Sophia as a mosque,’ then this sends the wrong signal to all minorities,” he said.
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