Monday, May 21, 2012

Turks have decided to turn the Historical Holy Sophia Church in Nicea into a Mosque

Iznik, Turkey, May 21, 2012

The church in question was built in the sixth century by Emperor Justinian I. It is located in the Turkish city of Iznik—in earlier history called Nicea.

Nicea is where two Ecumenical Councils were held—in 325 and 787. The latter council was held in the very church of Holy Sophia. In Nicea the Symbol of Faith was composed and accepted, and still bears the name “Nicene Creed”. Here the Arian heresy was dealt a decisive blow, reports

The church of Holy Sophia received the fathers of the Ecumenical council who condemned iconoclasm. That this church in particular has been turned into a mosque is a wound for the entire Christian world. Adding insult to injury is the fact that this church was built as a scaled-down Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

This is not the first time this church has been under the crescent. When the Turks seized Nicea in 1331, they turned the church into a mosque. In 1922 there was a terrible fire there, which kept the building out of use for nearly 100 years, and it was only restored in 2007.

The Turkish government’s decision to turn the ancient cathedral into a mosque has drawn criticism not only from Christians, but also from experts. Art historian Selchuk Miulaim of Marmara University has expressed his apprehension that given the church’s immense significance in the history of Christianity, refitting it as a mosque will provoke a wave of indignation from the whole world. The church was first used for Moslem worship on November 6, when local Moslems celebrated Id al Adha.

But even more indicative in the case of the Holy Sophia Church is how Moslems act when they have the opportunity to take something by force, and not by request. There is no mention of peace-making, tolerance, or political correctness. It more than justifies Spain for nipping the idea of a “unique ecumenical space” in the bud when Islamists wanted to pray in the Cordoba Cathedral. It should be etched in the memories of everyone faced with similar requests.

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