The Kremlin and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church have warned Turkey about plans to turn the former Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul, now a museum, into a mosque again.
The highest judges in Turkey will have to make a decision in the coming days about the plans for the Hagia Sophia of conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The former Byzantine cathedral was considered the worldwide centre of the Orthodox Christian faith until the Ottomans conquered what was then Constantinople in 1453.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is “deeply concerned” that Hagia Sophia will once again become a mosque. Kirill describes the building as “one of the greatest monuments of Christian culture”.
“A threat to Hagia Sophia is a threat to all of Christian civilization and our spirituality and history,” said the patriarch, who emphasizes that Hagia Sophia is an essential shrine to every Russian believer.