“It is an affront to the world cultural heritage that a museum, such as the Chora Church since 1958, has been converted into an Islamic mosque,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.
Read the full statement of the Minister of Culture
“The Chora Church is one of the most important Byzantine monuments. It is a church in Chora, which for the Byzantines, was the area outside the walls, whose first phase dates back to the 6th century. The second phase dates back to the 9th century, and, finally, the church as it stands today in the 11th and 12th century AD. The mosaics of the Chora Church and its frescoes and hagiographies are a unique work of art. The Mosaic of Virgin Mary is found in all textbooks of Byzantine history and Byzantine archaeology around the world. The mosaic of enthroned Christ receiving the offer made to him by Theodore Metochites, who presents a model of the church, is also considered one of the monumental chapters of Byzantine art and hagiography. Fresco of Harrowing of Hell. I mention all this in order to realize that we are talking about a monument, whose art and value, I would dare to say that it is comparable to that of Hagia Sophia.
As the announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already states, we have a second challenge from the Turkish president, which has been condemned by the Greek government through the competent Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has been condemned by the European Commission. Recently, the European Commission also stated that it condemned this act. It is sad that, in the 21st century, we are turning back the clock rather than allowing religious tolerance and multiculturalism to prevail. We are all talking about dialogue of cultures, consensus and tolerance. We are far too backward with these moves.
It is an affront to the world cultural heritage that a museum, such as the Chora Church since 1958, has been converted into an Islamic mosque.”