Tuesday 18 May 2021
Round Table at Moscow Patriarchate on Christian Shrines in the Middle East
A round table "Christian Shrines in Islamic Regions and Interreligious Dialogue" was held on the 18th of May, 2021 at External Church Relations Department of Moscow Patriarchate.
The event took place within the framework of the 29th educational readings of the External Church Relations Department of Moscow Patriarchate.
The meeting brought together the leading Russian orientalists and religious scholars, writers, journalists and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church clergy. They read reports on Christian churches and monuments in the Middle East. Particular attention was paid to the ancient shrines destroyed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Then, the event participants touched upon the topic of ancient Christian churches conversion to mosques in Turkey. The issues related to interreligious interaction of Christans and Muslims were also discussed at the round table.
Vladyka Leonid, Archbishop of Alania and Vladikavkaz, the Deputy Chairman of the External Church Relations Department of Moscow Patriarchate, chaired the round table. He drew attention of the audience to the plight of Christianity in a number of Muslim countries, that had been affected by local wars and conflicts. He noted the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church and its partners to protect the rights of persecuted Christians in these territories.
Then S.A. Melnikov, Chairman of the Russian Association for Religious Freedom, made a speech. He spoke in detail about the national religious communities and associations that provided significant support to the peoples of Syria with the participation of the Russian armed forces.
A.V. Sarabyev, leading researcher at the Center of Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies (the Russian Academy of Sciences), made a presentation "Christian Shrines in Syria: Current State".
Yu.A. Averyanov, senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, presented the report "Double Christian-Muslim Sanctuaries in Asia Minor: Syncretysm Issue in Osman Culture."
A.M. Solntsev, the Head of International Law Department at the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, devoted his presentation to the issue of Christians' status in Turkey. He analyzed the Hagia Sophia museum closure in Istanbul by the Turkish authorities from the international law point of view.
At the end of the round table, Dimitri Safonov, External Church Relations Department of Moscow Patriarchate secretary for interreligious relations, made a speech. He spoke about the return of the functioning mosque status to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. He reported on other Christian churches and historical monuments in Turkey that were converted to places of Muslim religious worship.
B.V. Dolgov, doctor of historical sciences, senior researcher at the Center of Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies, also participated in the discussion.
It is planned to publish a collection of reports on the basis of the round table results.