Russia is willing to provide funding for the construction of a replica of Hagia Sophia that will operate as an Orthodox cathedral, in Syria’s central Hama countryside, a Russian lawmaker reportedly said on Wednesday.
The move aims at showing the importance of “peaceful inter-faith dialogue,” Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov said.
Earlier in the month, Milonov had told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency that “Syria, unlike Turkey, is a country that clearly shows the possibility of peaceful dialogue between faiths, peaceful neighborhood of Christians and Muslims.” He added that President Bashar al-Assad would never convert a place of worship of one religion to a place of worship of another.
Media reports say that following Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, one of the commanders of the Syrian National Defense Forces, Nabel Abdullah, made a proposal to build an exact copy of the cathedral in the city of Skalbia.
Preparations for its construction in the city of Al-Suqaylabiyah will begin in August, the Lebanese Al-Modon news outlet reported on Tuesday.
“The talk of creating a replica of Hagia Sophia north of Hama had started in mid-July, when Abdullah announced his donation of a plot of land for the implementation of the project, and he presented the idea to the commander of the Russian Hmeimim military base in Latakia, and there he got the initial support for the project,” the Lebanese news agency added.