Various articles on websites of several Austrian media comment on the conversion of the Chora Church in Constantinople into a mosque by decree of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“Some weeks after the controversial conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the former Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (Kariye Museum) in Constantinople was converted into a mosque. The building which was declared a museum in the 1940s will open for Islamic prayer, under “a decree issued by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday,” the Austrian public broadcaster (ORF) said on its website.
It also adds that, according to official information, the history of the building dates back to the 6th century and that it has become a popular tourist attraction, especially because of the frescoes and mosaics. At the same time, it is considered as one of the most important Byzantine architectural monuments in Constantinople. In 1511, the church was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.
Moreover, Athens strongly criticised the decision: “It is another provocation towards the international community that respects the monuments of human civilisation,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said on Friday. According to the publication published in July, the conversion of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople from a museum into a mosque provoked an international outcry. On the 10th of July 2020, the Supreme Administrative Court in Turkey revoked the previous status of Hagia Sophia and the Turkish President signed a decree under which Hagia Sophia would be converted into a mosque.
The publication of the Austrian Public Broadcaster reminds that on the 24th of July, the first Muslim prayer was held in Hagia Sophia in the presence of the Turkish President and of hundreds of believers. The frescoes and mosaics, dating back to the Christian and Byzantine times, were covered during the prayer. In addition, international protests took place, especially by the Orthodox Church, opposing the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Another article on the website of the Wiener Zeitung newspaper took the same stance on the matter as well as other websites of other Austrian media.