First Published: 2013-11-26

Islamisation of Turkey continues: Istanbul monastery to be turned into a mosque
Monastery of Studios dedicated to St John the Baptist, considered most important of Constantinople.
Middle East Online

Survived fire and earthquakes but can't survive imposed Islam

ISTANBUL - A ruined fifth century monastery in Istanbul is to be turned into a mosque next year, local media reported Tuesday, amid a row with Greece over possible similar moves for the ancient Hagia Sophia complex.

The plans for the Monastery of Studios, which was dedicated to St John the Baptist and was considered the most important of Constantinople, were revealed by the Hurriyet Daily News.

Religious authorities in the city could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, which comes amid increasing criticism of the government over its attempts to impose Islamic values on secular society in Turkey.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc angered Greece when he voiced hope that Hagia Sophia, a stunning Byzantine monument that dates back almost 1,500 years, would be converted into a Muslim place of worship.

Two churches of the same name in other parts of Turkey have recently been turned into mosques, adding to the estimated 83,000 across the country.

Hurriyet said the monastery, which has been left in ruins by fire and earthquakes with only part of the church remaining, would be restored next year and then converted.

Hagia Sophia, now one of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions, was a church for centuries -- and the seat of the Patriarchate of Istanbul -- before the Ottomans turned it into a mosque in the 15th century.

Both Hagia Sofia and the Monastery of Studios were turned into museums after the founding of modern Turkey by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk in 1923.

Debate about the role of religion in Turkish society has intensified in the run-up to a highly-charged election period, kicking off next March with local polls.

 

Hope for change and stability as Tunisia prepares to elect new president

Voters bet on stability in crucial Bahrain elections

Economy and security top agenda of Sisi’s first European tour

Shebab ‘revenge’ attack leaves 28 innocents dead in Kenya

No justice for survivors of acid attacks in Iran

Saudi detainee sent home as US speeds up Guantanamo repatriations

Benghazi attack report clears Obama administration of serious charges

Hurdles remain high as Iran and world powers press on for nuclear pact

Strains between Washington and Ankara despite declared agreement

Paypal teams up AttijariWafa bank with to boost Morocco exports

UN begins sending winter aid to Iraq

Turkey launches all-out war against bonzai drug

Turkey to build bridge across Dardanelles to ease traffic

IS launch major attack on Ramadi

Biden: You cannot think free where you cannot challenge orthodoxy

Does Abbas have enough political influence to stop violence in Jerusalem?

Turkey offers military assistance to Iraq

Bomb hits police post near Helwan University in Egypt

UN demands staff member release in South Sudan

Tunisia goes for democracy to counter schemes of Ennahda and Marzouki

US envoy: IS ‘impaled itself’ on Kobane

Iran sees ‘no more room’ for talks on design of Arak reactor

Morocco King and Biden discuss ‘compelling alternative’ to dissuade potential jihadists

In response to Amnesty report: UAE remains committed to protection of human rights

World blacklists Ansar al-Sharia group in Libya

Dempsey places heavy responsibility on Iraq fractured army

Ladies first at Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Barbarism of suicide bombers rocks Arbil in fresh bloody attack

Egypt gives its blessing to Qatar return to Arab fold

France identifies second citizen in IS execution video

Israel returns to policy of punitive house demolitions

France reveals worrying numbers: More than 1000 jihadist nationals in Syria

Without Khamenei support, Rouhani risks much in Iran nuclear gamble

Saudi King urges Egypt to support Qatar return to Arab fold

Turkey may go ahead with redevelopment of Gezi Park

Suicide bomber blows up car in Iraqi Kurdish capital

Iraq government transfers $500 million to Kurdish region

Syria economy back to 1980s size

Netanyahu: Israel at the height of ongoing terror attack

Spanish lawmakers urge Madrid to recognise Palestine

Is GCC spat over Qatar finally over?

Turkey fears new wave of Syria refugees if Aleppo falls

Saudi Arabia expands buffer zone with Iraq

Spain parliament takes step towards recognising Palestine

Deadliest Jerusalem attack in years raises fears of escalation