The founding ceremony of the symbolic Hagia Sophia, which will be a miniature and replica of the historic church in Constantinople that was turned into a mosque earlier this year, took place in the Syrian province of Hama.
Greek Orthodox militias supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad recently announced that they would build a new church in Syria, a copy of Hagia Sophia, with the help of Russia.
This was in response to the decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque in July.
When will it be ready?
The commander of the Russian Armed Forces group in Syria, Lieutenant General Alexander Chaiko addressed the audience in the ceremony saying, “It will be a historical bridge between the best and spiritually moral traditions of the past, present and the future.”
According to Chaiko, the construction is projected to be completed within one year and the church will function as an Orthodox place of worship.
What will the “mini Hagia Sophia” look like?
According to reports, this is a private funding project and has no political framework.
“This is a private project, it will also be privately funded. Even the plot on which the church is to be built belongs to a family of Syrian Christians, whose ancestors resisted the Turks in the 1920’s, like all Syrians at the time. You do not have to wait for a majestic construction: it will be a small church,” said Nabil Abdallah, the commander of the pro-Syrian government National Defense Committee in the city a few days ago.
“I do not think it deserves the echo of Hagia Sophia.
He added that the construction of the church was blessed by the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
The question remains, will the Greek state contribute to this construction?
With Greece and Syria formalising renewed relations, it appears that Greece can begin its re-established ties with Syria by supporting the Greek Orthodox community in the construction of this cathedral.
Abdullah obtained the approval of Bishop Nicola Baalbaki, the Metropolitan of Hama and its dependencies, to build a new church in the city of Suqaylabiyah in Hama province. The more than 17,000 residents of Suqaylabiyah are overwhelmingly Greek Orthodox, as previously reported by Greek City Times.
The Greek Orthodox militias in Syria, who have remained loyal to the government battling Turkish-backed jihadists, have successfully defending their towns and churches without any assistance from Greece.
For Greece to emerge stronger after this crisis with Turkey, Athens must seriously consider supporting all Greek Orthodox communities wherever they exist in the region, whether it be Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan or Egypt. By not forging strong connections with the Greek Orthodox communities in these countries, we only use geopolitical leverage and influence.
If Greece wants to better secure its geopolitical positioning, it must forge pathways with these countries via the Greek Orthodox community. Greece already disgracefully abandoned Syria and the Greek Orthodox communities to the hordes of Turkish-backed jihadists.
Now if Greece wants to reestablish ties with Syria’s Greek Orthodox community, what better way is there then assisting the construction of a Greek Orthodox church in Suqaylabiyah?