The Panepirotic Federation of America is appalled by the decision of Mr Erdogan and the Turkish authorities to initiate the use of Aghia Sophia of Constantinople as a mosque. 

Aghia Sophia was declared a museum by Kemal Ataturk for a reason! 

It was a turning point of the Turkish state and society, bringing the country closer to humanistic and democratic principles of the western world. 

Aghia Sophia was treated as ‘spoils of war’ by the Ottoman Muslims, the way barbaric traditions were performed by humans during that era. Many of its marvelous frescos, iconographies and mosaics were destroyed or covered with plaster, a primitive way to show power and imperialist supremacy! 

Human soul and behavior has evolved since the 15th century and mankind does not need primitive ways to show superiority. 

Islam has its own architectural wonders, does it really need to steal from Christianity, occupy a Christian Cathedral in order to feel superior? Don’t the Turkish authorities and Mr. Erdogan understand that it is actually their own religion they are offending by using a ‘former’ Christian Cathedral for their prayers and rituals, as if they do not have any monumental mosques built exclusively for that purpose? 

Even if immature Ottoman rulers behaved as such 500+ years ago, do Turkish leaders have to repeat such primitive behavior over again in the 21st century? 

As Hellenes from the region of Epiros, we know what inhumane conditions our ancestors had to endure under Ottoman Islamic rule. It is just over a century that most of Epiros was liberated from Ottoman occupation. The remnants of autocratic oppression can be seen in form of monuments on Epirotan soil! 

Mr. Erdogan does not respect the dignity and human rights of his own citizens, why would he respect the dignity of monuments of some other religion. He is unfortunately repeating the mistakes of the Ottomans namely, oppression, brutality, violence, imperialism! He is catapulting Turkish society 500+ years back! We urge him to look into the translation of the formal Cathedral and museum he is undignifying, “Aghia Sophia” the “Holy Wisdom”! Even a minuscule piece of wisdom should be enough to let Mr Erdogan and the Turkish authorities rise to the expectations of the 21st century! 

Kemal Ataturk brought Turkey to the 20th century by making Aghia Sophia into a museum. He reached out a hand of friendship to the multiple ethnicities of Constantinople alias Istanbul and to the developed world. He rose to the expectations of his era! Recep Tayip Erdogan is catapulting a whole state and society back to the 15th century! 

Aghia Sophia of Constantinople was not the first former Christian Church to have been converted into a museum and reconverted into a mosque by the Turkish authorities under Mr Erdogan. Aghia Sophia of Trabzon, a small church from the 13th century, had the same fate 7 years ago! Evidently, it was a tryout, the world did not protest much. Various other reconversions followed. 

The Turkish authorities under Mr Erdogan have shown that, as also in the case of pastor Andrew Brunson in 2017, they will not budge from their extremist and primitive acts if there is no international pressure from countries they fear. In 2017, President Trump managed to take actions that lead to the release of pastor Brunson! 

President Trump, as Americans, citizens and residents of this great nation, roughly 3.5 million Americans of Greek decent, many from the region of Epiros, look up to You for leadership concerning Aghia Sophia! President Trump, take action, do the right thing! 

For the Panepirotic Federation of America, 

John Katsimbaris