Turkey responded to the criticism of Greece from the reading of the Koran in the Aya Sofia

© RIA Novosti / Yuri to Coorperate in fotobanka Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Archival photoTurkey responded to the criticism of Greece from the reading of the Koran in the Aya Sofia© RIA Novosti / Yuri to Coorperate the image Bank

The Ministry of foreign Affairs of Turkey responded to the criticism of Greece on the occasion of reading the Quran and prayers in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, told the newspaper Hurriet Daily News.

Earlier the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Greece condemned the reading of the Koran and prayers in the Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) in Istanbul. As stated in Athens, reading the Koran and holding a prayer in a recognized UNESCO as a world cultural heritage Council «is an affront to the international community». Prayers were held in the Hagia Sophia in the presence of the head of the Directorate of religious Affairs of Turkey and was broadcast on state television of Turkey.

«The Ministry of foreign Affairs of Greece, instead of congratulating the Turkish people during the Holy month of Ramadan «Laylat al-Qadr», chose to distort the reading of the Quran and prayers in Hagia Sophia,» stated the Turkish foreign Ministry. «Laylat al-Qadr» («night of power» or «night of predestination») is considered a particularly important date of the month of Ramadan.

In the Turkish foreign Ministry also said that the Greek authorities have rejected requests for Muslims to use for prayers in Ramadan is a historical mosque in Thessaloniki. «Thus, the question remains that Greece, in the capital which is also not open for worship in the mosque, meant by «interfaith dialogue» in a statement,» added the Turkish foreign Ministry.

On Thursday the official representative of US state Department Heather Nauert called on the government of Turkey to maintain the status of Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) in Istanbul, given its history and importance for different religions.

Hagia Sophia in Constantinople more than a thousand years was the largest Church in the Christian world. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Cathedral was converted into a mosque but since 1934 the building by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk became a Museum and was included in the world heritage list of UNESCO.

In 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan daily in St. Sophia will have to read the Koran. Then Turkey’s actions provoked a strong reaction in many countries of the world.

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