Turkey condemns hostile statements, flag-burning protest in Greece over Hagia Sophia
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned statements made by Greek officials and a flag-burning protest in Greece after the first Islamic prayers were held at Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia.
While expressing his strong indignation over the statement, the ministry spokesman, Hami Aksoy, stated that Greece has once again shown its enmity towards Islam and Turkey.
He added that the excuse that the reaction was against Hagia Sophia Mosque being opened to prayers was tenable.
Greek criticism of the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque after decades as a museum has been scathing, underlining tense ties between Greece and Turkey.
Church bells tolled in mourning across Greece on Friday as Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan joined prayers at the building.
Friday’s ceremony reinforced Erdogan’s commitment to restoring Muslim worship at the ancient site, which most Greeks consider as central to their Orthodox Christian religion.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it strongly condemned hostile statements by the Greek government and parliament members to stir up the public, and the burning of a Turkish flag in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.
“Hagia Sophia was opened to prayer as a mosque in line with the will of the Turkish people and belonged to Turkey like all cultural assets in the country,” it added.