The largest Byzantium monastery in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque after its restoration next year, claims Hurriyet Daily News, a leading English news website in Turkey.
Once converted, the Monastery of Stoudios or the Imrahor Monument will be called the Imrahor Ilyas Bey Mosque.
Laki Vingas, a representative of the Directorate General of Foundations (the authority managing estates and restoration of historical buildings in Turkey) echoed the feelings of many when he said “I wouldn’t like to speak as a member of a council but my personal opinion is that cultural heritage shouldn’t be reflected as an antagonistic heritage. If we reflect it like this, it will damage societies on a macro level.”
Vingas added that the issue creates grief within society and it was not only the Greek community’s problem.
“Cultural heritage is universal heritages, meaning that they are humanity’s common heritage,” he added.
99% of the Turkish population is Muslim, but it is a secular state and there is no compulsion with regards to religion.
Places of worship have tremendous sentimental value and are worthy of respect and protection. With
82,693 mosques, Turkey has enough places of worship for Muslims. Of the total, 3,113 of them are in Istanbul. Even if the need arises to build another mosque, surely there are other places in the city that can be used to help protect another’s place of worship and esteem.