VAN, Turkey – A Muslim man broke into the Armenian Orthodox Akhtamar Cathedral of the Holy Cross located on an island in Lake Van, in eastern Turkey, and filmed himself reciting the Adhan, the Muslim call to prayer, in the church’s sanctuary.
The Armenian newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that a Turkish citizen reported only as “Bushra” posted a video of the break-in and recitation of the Adhan on social media. Moreover, he posted photos showing he had graffitied “Raising the Adan in the church’s sanctuary has brought life back to it” on the bottom of one of the church’s walls.
Most churches and monasteries in Turkey have been left abandoned following the genocides of Christian peoples in the early 20th century and the mass emigration of Christians from the country due to decades of persecution. As a result, many churches in Turkey were left to ruin or turned into mosques or stables for animals.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had stated earlier that he intends to convert the historic Hagia Sophia Church into a mosque, in a move that some people see as an attempt to win over Muslim popular opinion ahead of the upcoming Turkish elections.