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Bill Papastergiadis calls on Australian Prime Minister to condemn decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque

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As the world watched Turkey’s highest administrative court renounce the decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a museum, religious leaders condemned the unforgivable actions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne, who yesterday condemned the Turkish Republic’s decision, have sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison requesting the world leader to similarly denounce the decision.

In the letter to the Australian Prime Minister, the Community emphasised the importance and symbolic role of Hagia Sophia, asking Mr Morrison to take appropriate action to ensure that the World Heritage Site is not turned into a mosque.

“As we are sure you are aware, the Turkish Republic have moved to reinstate the World Heritage listed Hagia Sofia monument back to being a mosque,” Mr Papastergiadis wrote to Scott Morrison.

Bill Papastergiadis with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholemew

“Hagia Sofia Is a significant cultural monument acknowledged by UNESCO to be of World significance. It plays a significant symbolic role in the life of many people around the world, including Australians of Greek background.

“The decision last week by the Turkish authorities to reinstate it as a mosque has been condemned worldwide and we now call on the Australian Government to add to the outcry.”

The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne also sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who welcoming the immediate reaction of the Greek Government.

“Hagia Sophia is an important cultural monument recognised by UNESCO as of World Importance,” Mr Papastergiadis wrote to Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“Its complex history testifies to the symbolic role it plays in the lives of many people around the world, including Australians of Greek descent. Hagia Sophia belongs to all mankind and should not be used as a tool of political and nationalist exploitation.”

“Our Community welcomes the immediate response of the Greek Government and supports the efforts made to address this critical issue.”

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