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UK Cypriots urge London to condemn Hagia Sophia move

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British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab is under pressure by UK Cypriots to take a “strong and principled stance” against the “wrong” decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque.

The UK National Federation of Cypriots wrote to Raab to highlight conversion of the mosque was another example of Turkey fostering division in the region

In the letter, Federation President Christos Karaolis argued that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey has worked to destabilise the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“President Erdogan’s latest jingoism and populism is an affront to all those who believe in peaceful coexistence in Turkey and the wider region.

Whether in Turkey, in Cyprus, or across the Middle East, Turkey has consistently undermined the peaceful coexistence of people of differing faiths and backgrounds,” said Karaolis.

He underscored the widespread condemnation of the international community in response to Turkey’s Hagia Sophia decision.

“The Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the Presidents of Churches Together in England, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, UNESCO, and numerous civil society leaders in Turkey have all criticised this decision.”

The first Turkish Nobel laureate and renowned writer, Orhan Pamuk said: “There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard.”

Appealing to the UK Government, Karaolis said Britain had been at the forefront of speaking up for the rights of Christian minorities around the world with the Foreign Office-initiated report into Christian persecution.

He urged the UK to “make a clear statement about its values by taking a firm and unambiguous public stance” against Turkey’s decisions.