In a surprising about-face, after its announcement yesterday that the Greek Orthodox monastery at Chora would be reopened and used for Muslim prayers on Friday, the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Turkey said that the reopening of the Monastery as a mosque would be postponed.
Stating that the “preparations for its conversions to a mosque have not been completed,” the reversal was another surprising turn in the fortunes of the Byzantine landmark, which was one of the first Christian sites to be looted and pillaged after the Ottoman invasion in 1453.
Along with the World Heritage Site of Hagia Sophia, the Chora Monastery is another site of immense importance to Greek Orthodox history and to the long and illustrious history of the Greek people in Asia Minor.
There was no further announcement of when the Muslim prayers would take place at Chora.
On Wednesday, it was noted that Chora’s priceless artwork, including frescoes and mosaics, had been covered up in preparation for Friday’s inauguration which, according to reports, would have been attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After 72 years of serving a non-religious use, the ancient monastery, along with the glorious cathedral of Hagia Sophia, was supposed to have been the site of Muslim prayers, according to a statement from imam Ali Erbas, in which he called the monastery the “Carrie Mosque.”