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Constantinople: Petition launched against conversion of Chora Church into mosque

The Hellenic American Leadership Council, an influential Greek-American advocacy group, has launched a petition against Ankara’s conversion of another important Byzantine monument, the Chora Church, into a mosque.

More specifically, the petition calls on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to exert pressure on Turkey for the protection of its Christian minorities and Christian cultural heritage.

“The story of Chora is unfortunately part of a pattern that Christian minorities in Turkey and the Middle East – their native homelands – are all too familiar with,” the petition states, going on to refer to the 2020 conversion of Hagia Sophia – a Byzantine church-turned-museum and one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions – despite widespread condemnation of the plan.

“Measures that can be immediately implemented include the denial of visas for Turkish officials – specifically officials from Turkey’s Diyanet (Directorate of Religious Affairs) – involved with conversions of these heritage sites,” the petition adds. 

It also urges the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to “visit Turkey and occupied Cyprus (for the first time since 2011) to properly assess the danger these Christian heritage sites face.”

To sign the petition, click here.