Turkish press has recently reported that a historical Greek Orthodox church in a remote township of Istanbul is being converted to a mosque. The church is in a town called Ortaköy in Silivri prefecture. Ortaköy used to be called Delliones by the Greeks, who left the town in the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923.
As I happened to be in the area in August, I stopped by the location and saw the renovation work that had been started by the Municipality of Istanbul. The signage (shown below left) reads “Renovation of Historical Ortaköy Mosque.” The Municipality of Istanbul is headed by Kadir Topbas of AKP party, who is one of prime minister Erdogan’s favorites.
The church, dedicated to Agios Dimitrios, was inaugurated in 1831 (as seen from the epigraph above the main entrance, picture on right) and has remained deserted since 1923. Therefore, the claim of “historical mosque” on the signage is preposterous. The small village of Ortaköy already has a modern mosque which more than meets the needs of local Muslims. However, this is not enough for the ruling AKP, which is intent on pressing forward with its full-scale Islamization agenda: anything non-islamic must be converted to Islamic or destroyed. The empty building attracted the attention of AKP zealots, who are salivating to add yet another one to the existing two thousand plus mosques throughout Istanbul. Mayor Topbas, instead of ruling for renovation of the church at least as a cultural center to be preserved for generations, gave his blessing to this cultural massacre.
Recently, AKP is attempting to transform Turkey into a closed, backward Islamic society, full of contempt for and banning anything non-Islamic: AKP municipalities have been prohibiting alcohol in towns throughout Anatolia; phones of AKP’s critics are being tapped in violation of the constitution and their conversations are then released in the newspapers which support the government; AKP-instigated, politically motivated prosecutors imprison journalists, intellectuals, and anyone voicing opposition to radical AKP policies; gays and transvestites are being harassed, fined and jailed for no reason by the overzealous police force; AKP-appointed imams preach hatred against Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims. The poor church of Agios Dimitrios is only one of the countless victims of a determined, continuous effort of the radical Islamic party to create a theocratic autocracy much like and possibly worse than Iran.
Those of you who want to protest this audacious act of defiance against the Christian world and the disrespect of the world cultural heritage can find below the email of the dictator of AKP, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We urge you to tell him that what he is doing is not right and he will be held responsible for the criminal acts of his Islamic junta: