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American Leaders Oppose Conversion of Hagia Sophia to a Mosque

Archons with Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce at the Rayburn House Office Building.
View photos of the Meetings»
Read Letter of Robert Menendez »
Read Letter of Edward Royce »
Read USCIRF statement »

Washington, D.C. - The United States' opposition to the conversion of the historic Hagia Sophia into a mosque by the Republic of Turkey recently rose significantly higher on the American agenda. The Chairmen of both the US Senate and US House Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the Commissioners of the United States International Religious Freedom Commission (USCIRF) expressed themselves on this matter. 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) addressed the issue in a May 27 letter to US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone (view letter). House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) addressed this issue in a May 29 letter to President Barack Obama (view letter). USCIRF issued a strong report on May 21 on the matter (read report). All urged strong American opposition to the proposed Turkish conversion.

These letters and statement followed the May 7th and 8th Archon briefings of the top American officials with jurisdiction over international religious matters mentioned above as well as those at the White House and State Department. The Archon group included National Commander, Dr. Anthony Limberakis; Spiritual Advisor, Father Alex Karloutsos; Regional Commander and Washington Religious Freedom Coordinator Andy Manatos and co-Coordinator, Mike Manatos.

Archon delegation with Jodi B. Herman, senior foreign policy advisor (and Committee Chief Counsel and Deputy Staff Director) to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Dr. Limberakis said, "We are pleased that our country's leaders appreciate the great symbolic significance of Hagia Sophia. Built in the sixth century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia served for nearly 1,000 years as the most visible symbol of the Christian faith within the Byzantine Empire. Stopping the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque will accrue to the benefit of all Christians, to all believers in religious freedom and to the 21st Century image of the Republic of Turkey. Our officials' positive response to our concerns is greatly appreciated."

For more information, contact: Mike Manatos at 202-393-7790.  


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