Restore The Hagia Sophia Museum

Restore The Hagia Sophia Museum

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-- This petition is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to send a strong message to the Turkish government, demanding that it repeal the Presidential Decree transforming the Hagia Sophia Museum into a practicing Mosque --

The aim of this petition is for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to issue an official statement on behalf of the Australian Government denouncing Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent decision to transform the Hagia Sophia Museum into a Mosque.

Constructed by the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia was the world’s largest church for 1000 years and served as the centre of Eastern Orthodox spirituality and Helleno/Roman culture until the City's fall to the Islamic Ottoman Turks in 1453 AD.

In the sack of the City, numerous frescoes and icons were either destroyed or whitewashed over and the mosaic tiles thereafter began to be sold as talismans to visitors. Minarets were slowly added in different sizes and forms until they reached their present condition in 1576 AD of 4 diametrically opposite minarets, and the golden crescent of Islam was added atop the main dome.

In the 1930s, with the establishment of the newly founded Turkish Republic with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at the head, the Hagia Sophia was transformed into an internationally recognised world heritage site and a secular museum. Whitewash was removed, mosaics were preserved and the structure opened to the public.

Under the current government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his calls for restoring the Hagia Sophia to a mosque surfaced in 2018 amidst an international climate of genocide recognition (Armenian, Assyrian & Greek) and economic and political instability at home in Turkey.

Unfortunately, on the 10th of July 2020 Erdogan signed a Presidential Decree annulling the Hagia Sophia’s conversion to a museum and returning it to an active Mosque.

This Decision:

1.     Violates International Law and the monument’s UNESCO heritage listing

2.     Is evidence of Erdogan’s provocative and inflammatory neo-Ottomanist policies

3.     Contradicts the earlier 1934 decree issued by Ataturk affirming its monument status

4.     Puts the Hagia Sophia at structural risk and endangers conservation of the historic site

The Hagia Sophia is of cultural, historical and religious significance to millions of Christians worldwide. Tens of thousands of Australians visit the Hagia Sophia annually and with over 500,000 Orthodox Christians in Australia alone, we ask the Prime Minister to make known his nation’s displeasure at Turkey’s decision to convert the Hagia Sophia.

Australians of all backgrounds, faiths and creeds are united in their belief that Erdogan cannot make such a change without UNESCO approval, and that his decision not only violates the rule of law but speaks volumes about the Islamist and extremist direction he is leading Turkey towards. Australians request that Scott Morrison issue an official statement immediately to this effect.