The government of Syria has begun plans to construct a smaller-scale replica of the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul(formerly Constantinople) in the country’s Hama province, in response to the decision of the government of Turkey to convert the historic 6th century cathedral into a mosque for a second time.
Hagia Sophia, which was first constructed as a Christian cathedral in the medieval Byzantine Empire, was turned into a mosque upon the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire. It was later converted into a museum shortly after the foundation of the modern-day Republic of Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s intiative to turn the historic building into a mosque once more earlier this month has inflamed tensions with the Christian world, especially with Eastern Orthodox Christians who see the former church as a holy place.
In response to the act of cultural triumphalism, the Syrian government has approved plans for the construction of a new, smaller-scale reproduction of the Hagia Sophia Church in the nation’s city of Al-Suqaylabiyah, which is primarily inhabited by Greek Orthodox Syrians who largely support the government of Bashar al-Assad. It’s unclear at this stage if the building is planned for use as an Orthodox church or as a museum, but the project does have the blessing of local Orthodox bishop Nicolos Baalbaki. The government of Russia, which patronizes Orthodox Christian heritage in the Middle East, is expected to contribute in the construction project.
The project will be a nod to religious tolerance and Syria’s own Byzantine Christian heritage.
It’s of some significance that Turkey- a NATO member state that the United States and the Christian West is obligated to protect- is actively working to Islamicize buildings essential to Christian history, whereas Syria- a majority-Muslim nation largely blacklisted by the West since the beginning of its seemingly endless civil war- is actively working to commemorate its Christian heritage.
PURE EVIL: Churches Torched and Razed to the Ground During Anti-Government Riots in Chile
Another one of those “mostly peaceful protests” erupted over the weekend in Santiago, Chile, on the anniversary of last year’s protests—read: riots—against the Chilean government.
On Sunday demonstrators and criminals smashed up businesses, looted stores, attacked police, and even vandalized and burned two churches.
The riots happened one week prior to a referendum on a new constitution, of which the rioters are in favor. The current constitution was written during the autocratic rule of General Augusto Pinochet, with two-thirds of the Chilean electorate voting to adopt it back in 1980.
— Catholic Arena (@CatholicArena) October 19, 2020
In addition to supporting a new constitution, the rioters claim to be dissatisfied with persisting economic inequality, inadequate health care, and insufficient pensions. This is despite, as the Wall Street Journal points out, economic growth and decreasing poverty over the years.
Absolute chaos in Santiago – the church spire has come down in flames pic.twitter.com/FZHmrVCquy
— John Bartlett (@jwbartlett92) October 18, 2020
Some Chileans may have some legitimate grievances—I’m by no means an expert on the Chilean economy or political situation—but I will always side against the protesters when I see churches being desecrated and city blocks being destroyed. Far-left agitators are without a doubt behind these horrifying scenes. It’s too bad we no longer have General Pinochet around to deal with these Marxists the proper way.
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