Friday, December 11, 2009

Turkey Feels The Pain Of Swiss Minaret Ban

Turkey Feels The Pain Of Swiss Minaret Ban | HULIQ

The Swiss Minaret ban has drawn many critical voices from around the world. The majority of Muslims in Switzerland are from Turkey and some from the Balkans. Turkey feels the minaret decision pain as number of Christian churches (namely Armenian and Greek) in Turkey are either closed or turned to museums.

Turkey, on the other hand is one of those countries where the opposite problem exists. While most Muslim countries and many Christians strongly criticized the Swiss Minaret vote, no one in the Muslim world or even in Europe seems to really care about the situation of the Christian churches and seminaries for preparation of schools in Turkey.

Churches Turned Into Museums in Turkey

While many Christian churches operate in Turkey number of others are closed or turned into museums. Halki Seminary, the main school of theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church's Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, was closed in 1971 and not opened to this date.

The most beautiful church of the Orthodox Christianity, the cathedral of Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 by the Republic of Turkey. One begs the question, "Why not turn it back to a church and give it back to the rightful owner, which is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Turkey." In fact, this church is so beautiful and awe inspiriting that it served as a model for many Muslim mosques, like Sultan Ahmed in Istanbul.

Consider the St. Sophia Museum, which was built in covered Greek cross architecture during the reign of King Manuel I Kommenos in 13th century. Today, St. Sophia church is converted into a museum and is located in 3 kilometers west of Trabzon. The "conversion" of this church into a museum took place in 1964.

To the credit of the current Turkish government it should be noted that some churches, such as the Armenian church in Aghtamar Island in the Eastern Turkey are restored. However, they are not houses of worship yet.

How different is the Swiss Minaret ban from Turkey's restoring the Armenian Church Aghtamar, turning it into a museum and not yet allowing to put a cross on the top of the church building? Turkey completed the controversial restoration of Aghtamar Armenian Church in 2006. Armenian religious leaders invited to attend the opening ceremony opted to boycott the event, because the church was being reopened as a secular museum.

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