Turkey on July 26 called on an end to provocations such as burning of the Turkish flag in Greece over reversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, and also “strongly” condemned the act, according to the Defense Ministry.
“We strongly condemn and curse the burning of Turkish flag in Greece’s Thessaloniki,” the ministry said on Twitter.
“We warn that such and similar provocations and harassments be terminated immediately,” it said, adding: “Dirty hands reaching to our glorious flag will be broken.”
A group of far-right Greek extremists burned Turkish flags late Friday in Thessaloniki to protest the reopening of the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque for worship in Istanbul.
Ankara condemns statements by Greek officials, burning of Turkish flag
July 24’s historic prayer in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years.
Thousands of people took part in Friday prayers both inside and outside the historic mosque in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.
On July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use as a mosque.
Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.
In 1985, during its time as a museum, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Besides being a working mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.