International Young Democrat Union statement about the Conversion of Hagia Sophia.
This Friday, July 10, marked a sad day for all of ecumenical Christianity and world community. Amid international protest, Turkish President Erdogan achieved his long-cherished goal of converting the iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque, ignoring global calls to maintain its status as a world cultural heritage monument and museum.
The presidential decree came minutes after a Turkish court announced that it had revoked Hagia Sophia’s status, which since 1934 had made it a world heritage monument of harmony and a symbol of tranquillity and union among religions and human beings.
For nearly a millennium it stood as one of the centres of the Christendom and until today it pays homage to the beliefs and values of world civilisation. By sealing the removal of its monument status and allowing Hagia Sophia to become a functioning mosque, Erdogan’s decree transfers the control of this sacred ecumenical site to the Religious Affairs Directorate, constituting a direct attack on the principles which we hold dear in democratised countries, such as tolerance and dialogue. Additionally, it is a clear breach of Hagia Sophia’s status as Unesco World Heritage site, showing that the turkish government seems to have chosen isolation.
The IYDU strongly disagrees with actions that disrespect international common values and believes that Erdogan’s action risks fracturing and exacerbating the relations between the East and West.
We call upon all international actors to take a clear stand in favour of the universal symbolism of Hagia Sophia. The response to these unprovoked actions must demonstrate the international resolve and determination to defend the values of ecumenism, dialogue and common ideals.