Turkey to Turn 5th Century Istanbul Monastery Into Mosque
One of the exterior facades of the St. John Stoudios (Imrahor) Monastery.
A ruined fifth century monastery in Istanbul is to be turned into a mosque next year, local media reported Tuesday, amid a row with Greece over possible similar moves for the ancient Hagia Sophia complex.
The plans for the Monastery of Studios, which was dedicated to St John the Baptist and was considered the most important of Constantinople, were revealed by the Hurriyet Daily News.
Religious authorities in the city could not immediately be reached for comment on the report, which comes amid increasing criticism of the government over its attempts to impose Islamic values on secular society in Turkey.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc angered Greece when he voiced hope that Hagia Sophia, a stunning Byzantine monument that dates back almost 1,500 years, would be converted into a Muslim place of worship.
Two churches of the same name in other parts of Turkey have recently been turned into mosques, adding to the estimated 83,000 across the country.