It was in Turkey that the followers of Jesus were called "Christians" for the first time in history, but this nation is making efforts to erase its Christian past, as reflected in the conversion of an ancient Byzantine church into a mosque, the Christian Post website reports today (July 27, 2013).
The Hagia Sophia Museum -- a former Greek Orthodox Church in the Black Sea city of Trabzon -- was used this month for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, reports International Business Times.
The mufti of Trabzon was joined by local Muslim residents for the Islamic prayers in the 13th century church building on July 5. The Christian murals have been covered with curtains, and the bell dome is being used as a minaret.
The Association of Archaeologists in Turkey is not happy with the move, which is being seen as an attempt by the ruling "Islamic-oriented" Justice and Development (locally known as AK) party to erase the Christian past and revive the Ottoman heritage. "To destroy the properties of a museum like Hagia Sophia, which could be a candidate for world cultural heritage, is a crime against universal culture and humanity," the Association said.