Turkish authorities decided to let readings of the Quran take place in Haga Sophia. However, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of American and the AHEPA were outraged by the decision and protested. Also, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) created a campaign to persuade Greek to sign a letter that will be sent to the U.S Commission regarding Religious Freedom (USCIRF). They wanted the commission to release a statement that goes against the increasing idea of converting Hagia Sophia into a functional mosque.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA) released a statement explaining how upset they feel regarding the surprising daily reading of the Quran in the famous Hagia Sophia.
The GOAA argues that Greece, Germany, and the U.S. have all previously expressed that they are against such practices taking place in Hagia Sophia. All three of the countries have strongly advised Turkey to preserve the prestigious Mosque in a way that stays true to its grand history and tradition. The statements also highlighted that fact that the Hagia Sophia is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site. Therefore, they advise that the particular place is used appropriately to avoid its status as a World Heritage Monument from being changed.
The GOAA have other beliefs for restricting the use of Hagia Sophia too. They argue that allowing daily readings of the Quran can alter the way Hagia Sophia is recognized on an international level. They have urged authorities to reconsider and take responsibility for the upset it can cause by terminating the currently permissible readings of the Quran.
John W. Galanis, the Supreme president, has released a statement explaining how Hagia Sophia was included on the World Heritage Site to protect the unique place of its impressive universal value. The grand Hagia Sophia is respected and appreciated by many different communities included architects, engineers, academics, authors, archaeologists and journalist, not just Orthodox Christians.
According to the World Heritage Convention, as members of the group, Turkey is responsible for protecting any UNESCO sites within their country such as Hagia Sophia. UNESCO organization assesses the management, authenticity, protection and integrity of places that are included on the list of World Heritage sites.
By allowing the Quran to by read on a daily basis Turkey are failing to adhere to the rules and criteria that are set for all State Parties.
Turkey has 15 properties in total registered on the World Heritage List and as a country, they are bound to adhere to their commitments as a State Party. AHEPA have requests that UNCESCO takes prompt action to fix the situated that has been allowed by the Turkish government.
The recent change in proceedings has left many people upset and angry. Billions of people travel from all over the world each year to visit the famous Hagia Sophia, situated in the bustling city of Istanbul. Only time will tell whether the situation will be rectified successfully or whether further action will be taken.