RHODES: Turkish media complain that an Ottoman mosque built atop of a Byzantine church is now a music school

Murat Reis Mosque rhodes turkish media

Turkish media complained that the Murat Reis Mosque in Rhodes, which was built on top of a church during the Ottoman period, is currently being used as a music school.

"The conversion is the latest in Greece's efforts to destroy its Muslim Turkish heritage as the tensions with its neighbor Türkiye escalate," wrote the Daily Sabah, ignoring that the mosque was built atop the Aghios Antonios Church when the Ottomans conquered the Aegean island.

"In Rhodes, the policy manifests itself as the purchase of historical buildings from foundations running them and their purported 'restoration,' which mostly serves to delete its original identity, according to experts," the outlet wrote. "In most cases, the building's original use is abandoned and it is converted into something completely different."

The Murat Reis Mosque is one of the oldest mosques on the island and was built in 1524, one year after the Ottoman conquest of Rhodes.

It is named after Murat Reis, who is "buried" here in a tomb. He was born in Rhodes and became one of the Ottoman Empire’s most successful naval commanders. In fact, Ottoman Sailors visited his tomb for many years seeking good luck at sea.

In fact, the ridiculous effort by the Daily Sabah to portray Greek as destroying Ottoman heritage, which ignores the Ottoman destruction of original sites, is an attempt to deflect from Turkey's own ruin of historical sites.

It is not forgotten that the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, constructed as a Christian Cathedral, was only converted into a mosque by the Turkish President in 2020.

Since that conversion, the Hagia Sophia has been vandalised several times. In one instance, a number of tiles of the marble floors were damaged by heavy machines used to clean the site. At the time, a Turkish newspaper reported that a tour guide at the historic site had pointed out severe cracks and damage.

The marble floors had previously suffered wear and tear throughout the centuries, but the cracks in the marble tiles were recent, it was noted.

The X-ray machines at the entrance of the monument, which have not been working since it was converted into a mosque, were switched on two weeks ago. Those in charge continue to warn women who enter without a headscarf, as well as those who attempt to enter in inappropriate clothing. However, there appears to be no provision for essential protection.

An image of the damaged marble from late June can be seen below.

In April, the Turkish Association of Art Historians said the Imperial Gate in Hagia Sophia had been badly damaged. Photos on Twitter showed that chunks of the wood had been ripped off.

That incident led Greece Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to express his “sadness and disgust” in a call with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. The Hagia Sophia is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

At the time, Mitsotakis said the damage to the Imperial Gate demonstrated disrespect for the monument’s history, integrity, and universal character.

Following this latest incident, a report in Turkey’s ATV television network said the Hagia Sophia had become a “target of the uncivilised,” and listed the recent damage to the site.

“First, it was the imperial gate, then the walls and marbles, and now the emblems” that were taken, according to the report. “Every side of Hagia Sophia is sacred and that’s probably why someone considered it sacred and took it home,” it was said.

In Byzantine times, the door was also known as the Silver Gates and the Beautiful Gates, but it has also been called the Door of Repentance.

Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque, and many precious mosaics were destroyed.

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