Orthodox Public Affairs Committee established in US over Hagia Sophia

23:49, 04 December 2020 175

The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee (OPAC) has announced its official launch and the start of its work to expose and combat Christians' persecution around the globe.

The organization's goal is to search and identify cases of persecution of Christians worldwide and combat the violation of their rights, representatives of the committee said.

For too long, the diminution and outright persecution of Christians has been accepted as status quo, said George Gigicos, former Deputy Assistant to the President, Director of the White House Office of Presidential Advance, and Co-Founder & Chairman of OPAC.

Although we are primarily Orthodox Christians, we will speak up for all people of faith because the intolerance of one is the oppression of all. OPAC will bring to light the truth of what is happening in our world today, without fear or hesitation. We look forward to forging partnerships with those who share our values and our goals, Gigicos added.

The re-conversion of Hagia Sophia in Turkey into a mosque was the organizing motivation behind OPAC because of the clear historical and cultural precedents that were broken.

Hagia Sophia was opened in 537 and, for over a thousand years, remained the largest church in the Christian world. Its height is 55.6 meters, the diameter of the dome is 31 meters. In 1453, after the city’s capture by the Ottomans, the temple was turned into a mosque. After the fall of the empire, in 1935, the temple became a museum.

On July 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. It provides for the transfer of the temple to the ownership of the Turkish Religious Affairs Department, which turned the temple into a functioning mosque.

The Turkish authorities annulled the 1935decree, according to which the cathedral was given the status of a museum.

France has expressed regret over the change in the status of the Hagia Sophia museum and the transformation of the Christian cultural monument into a mosque, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, reported earlier.