US State Department to Turkey: Respect the Hagia Sophia
The State Department called Turkey to respect the status of Hagia Sophia as a global heritage site as it carries a special symbolism that transcends cultures.
In its annual report on religious freedom around the world the State Department lists the challenges religious minorities are facing in Turkey.
Among the most important issues presented are the difficulties in opening or operating places of worship and the resolution of property disputes related to government expropriations that have taken place in church areas and real estate.
Hagia Sophia, the report says, is a symbol of peaceful coexistence, meaningful dialogue and respect between religions.
In particular, senior US government officials have publicly and privately expressed to Turkish officials their view that the Hagia Sophia is a monument of exceptional importance, arguing that it should be maintained in a way that respects and agrees with its multicultural history.
According to the report, “US Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo and other senior government officials have continued to urge government officials in Turkey to reopen the Greek Orthodox Theological School in Chalki and allow all religious communities to be educated in the country.
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