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Erdoğan, the Desecrator of Our Sacred Sites

May 8, 2024
Analysis by Theodore Kalmoukos

Once again, Islamist President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has proven to be the desecrator of our sacred and holy places. This time, he has converted another emblem of Orthodoxy and our ‘Genos’, the historic Monastery of the Chora (Μονή της Χώρας), with its unique and unparalleled mosaics and frescoes, into a mosque. It is evident that he is the desecrator of our sanctuaries and sacred places.

Indeed, this Asian conqueror transformed with a single command this sacred bastion of Orthodoxy into a Muslim Mosque, allowing indigenous inhabitants of Constantinople to enter and pray in it. It’s as if the Constantinople lacks mosques – in fact, every few meters there is a mosque with minarets where muezzins are calling for prayer.

As if the sacrilege of the great church of the Genos, Aghia Sophia, which he converted into a mosque, was not enough, he proceeded with the Monastery of the Chora. It seems this ruthless Islamist will Islamize all our holy places, unfortunately lacking sufficient physical and spiritual presence, except for a few exceptions. Erdoğan proceeds with his plan without considering anything or anyone. Commitments regarding international organizations such as UNESCO and others are mere words for him.

I have had the honor to visit the Monastery of the Chora 39 times, as many times as I have visited Constantinople, during the time when I used to go frequently, at least twice a year, when the Patriarch was the simple, humble, and holy Father and Patriarch of the Church and the Genos, Dimitrios.

Every time I visited the Monastery of the Chora, I stood in prayer before the narthex, observing the mosaic image of Christ with the inscription “Jesus Christ, the Land of the Living.” I looked at Him, and He looked at me with those Godly, expressive eyes. Then, I moved to the right side and looked at the mosaic of the Virgin Mother, with the inscription “Mother of God, the Incomprehensible Land,” and I pondered how much wisdom and treasure of meanings these two inscriptions contain!

And now I am tormented by the thought and question, where is the uprising of Hellenism and the Orthodox World from everywhere, to tell the desecrator Turkish conqueror: “It is not permissible for you to do this,” meaning, the Monastery of the Chora and Hagia Sophia do not belong to you. Where are they?

Where are the Orders of the Archons with ‘nooses’ around their necks and emblems of their jackets, their grandiose words, and their meaningless conferences on so-called religious freedoms, banners declaring them “defenders of the Faith,” and similar bombastic nonsense?

Where are the multimillionaires and billionaires of the Archdiocesan Council to buy advertisements in the largest newspapers in America and denounce Erdoğan and his Turkey?

Where is Erdoğan’s compatriot, I mean the one who came from Turkey, Elpidophoros, Archbishop of America, to spark an uprising everywhere? To call for a press conference with American and global media and openly denounce the desecrator Erdoğan?

To rise and go to the White House and the officials of Washington and demand that they compel the desecrator Erdoğan to return the Monastery of the Chora and Aghia Sophia, yes, Aghia Sophia, and the other naves that the Turks have occupied?

Where is Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to move heaven and earth around the world and denounce Erdoğan for violating our faith, our Greek Orthodox civilization and culture? And let him dare to proclaim the Church of Constantinople to be a persecuted institution; thus, history will write negatively about him down, because now, unfortunately, he is passing into history as the Patriarch who scattered and divided Orthodoxy across the world.

Someone might object and say that these proposals are extreme, but perhaps this is the only language the Turks understand. They eradicated Hellenism and Orthodoxy in Constantinople. What else can one expect?

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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