The fifth century Byzantine Stoudios monastery in Istanbul housed a church and was later turned into a mosque and then a museum before falling into disrepair.
Credit Peter Kenyon / NPR
The grass- and weed-strewn interior of the Church of St. John the Baptist — housed inside the Stoudios monastery — has gone to seed. An ambitious restoration project is due to begin next year, when it will open to the public as a mosque, according to the government.
Credit Peter Kenyon / NPR
Recent remarks by a Turkish official have rekindled talk that the Hagia Sophia may be reconverted into a mosque. The most famous Byzantine structure in Istanbul, it was built as a Greek Orthodox church in the fifth century, became a mosque in the 15th century, and has been a museum since 1935. Other Christian sites are already being converted into mosques.
A historically significant but now-crumbling fifth century Byzantine monastery in Istanbul is finally slated for restoration. But for Turkey's dwindling Greek community, the bad news is that the government wants to turn the Stoudios monastery into a mosque.
It's just one of several such conversions of historically Christian sites that the government is considering. And there's even talk that the Hagia Sophia, the most famous Byzantine structure in modern Istanbul, will be reconverted into a mosque.
A one-year old Syrian refugee in his bed and play pen in Tripoli, Lebanon. His family fled Syria just after he was born. He spends most of his time in this box which is his bed, play pen, refuge. This crate resides on the grounds of an active slaughter house where his family now lives. (Elena Dorfman)
A hand-made shelter for a Syrian refugee family in Ketermaya. The family was invited by the owner to live on Lebanese farmland. (Elena Dorfman)
Dva’a, 17, lives with her brother in northern Lebanon. The rest of her family stayed behind in Syria. Although they once planned on all living together, they are now too scared to leave Syria. Dva’a says that this war has torn her life to pieces and has had a huge impact on her psychologically. She lives in fear, is listless, and has doubts about her future. She says that she can still hear the bombs and shelling over her head, although she is now safe in Lebanon. She said that at 17 she’s just beginning to be the person she will become, although her life is in limbo and she has no idea what her future holds. (Elena Dorfman)
Farman, 20, came to the Domiz refugee camp in Kurdistan with his cousin. In the early days of the revolution he became somewhat of an activist, taking and posting pictures of the demonstrations in his area. When his friends were arrested for the same activities he became scared and left the country for northern Iraq. He worries about his parents who were left behind. Most days he sits with his friends in a small room that four of them share, unable to find work and unsure where to go next. (Elena Dorfman)
Hamada, 21, narrowly missed being forced into the army when a guard who had caught him at a checkpoint turned away to tend to something else. At that same moment, rebel fighters shot and killed the guard and Hamada was able to run away. Like his friend Tamer, he lives in a dark, tiny room on the outskirts of Beirut with four other refugees. His parents urged him to leave Syria because they were afraid he would be conscripted. He left the country using the identity of his youngest brother who wasn’t of army age. He’s been in Lebanon for six months and says that he is emotionally destroyed, depressed, scared and worried about how to pay the rent, how to eat, how to get by. (Elena Dorfman)
Hani, 19, is originally from Homs, Syria, but now lives in a dusty tented settlement in Madjel Anjar, Lebanon. Although most of the people in the cluster of tents by the side of the road have been there for nearly a year, toilets were installed only one month ago. Hani brought books with him when he and his family fled, a reminder of his old life in school. He says, “In Syria, my country, I miss everything. I miss my friends so much. I miss the streets, my teachers, my future university. I miss drinking my coffee with the birds. I miss Fayruz songs. I miss my brothers’ smiles in the morning”. He says that he is proud of himself because he still has his mind, his heart. He lost his country but he did not lose his personality or his spirit. (Elena Dorfman)
Iman, 19, from Homs, is married but her husband stayed in Syria. She last saw him four months ago. He can’t leave the country because he is of army age and, if caught crossing a checkpoint, will be sent to fight for the regime. She misses him by her side and dreams of living a normal life back in Syria, in their own home. She said that she cleans the room she shares in a collective shelter obsessively, because it is the only thing she can do, the only control she has. (Elena Dorfman)
I’tmad, 17, has been wearing the same clothes since she escaped Homs, Syria four months ago. Before reaching Lebanon, she and her family moved from apartment to apartment for many months, trying to avoid shelling. She now lives on the top floor of a collective shelter where, she said, she never leaves the apartment. She knows only her family and the one room where they live. She tells me that she misses her classmates, her home, and the taste of Syrian falafel and humus. She was once an Arabic language student with many awards but brought no books with her when she fled, and has no idea if or when she’ll ever be able to return to her studies. (Elena Dorfman)
In Akbiya, Lebanon, these dark, underground streets -- former storage units -- are home to more than 200 Syrian refugees. Children play in the dirty water and in the darkness. (Elena Dorfman)
An informal tented settlement for Syrian refugees in Anjar, Lebanon. (Elena Dorfman)
A dreamscape on the outside of living quarters in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. (Elena Dorfman)
Georgetown University professor Abraham Newman argues that business practices at the big technology companies have helped the National Security Agency gather consumers’ personal data in the U.S. and abroad.
Technology companies have reacted sharply to revelations of N.S.A. spying on their customers’ data. Google said, “We are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data from our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood run from tear gas during clashes with riot police near Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya square on Nov. 22.
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Egypt's Mohamed Yousef won a gold medal at the kung fu championships in Russia in October. He then put on a yellow T-shirt with a four-finger salute to express solidarity with protesters opposing Egypt's military-backed government. Egyptian sports officials have suspended him and barred him from tournaments for a year.
Mohamed Yousef is a tall, handsome practitioner of kung fu. In fact, he's an Egyptian champion who recently won an international competition.
But a month ago, when he collected his gold medal at the championship in Russia, he posed for a picture after putting on a yellow T-shirt with a hand holding up four fingers.
That's the symbol of Rabaa al-Adawiya, the Cairo square where Egyptian security forces opened fire in August on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hundreds were killed, including seven of Yousef's friends.
The Associated Press reports that a shark bit the dangling foot of Patrick Briney, 57, of Stevenson, Wash., as he fished from a kayak between Maui and Molokini, a small island that is a popular diving and snorkeling spot.
A young Afghan balloon seller runs toward a customer in Kabul on April 2. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are the most-corrupt countries, according to the annual Corruption Perception Index released Tuesday.
Dead mice laced with acetaminophen have for the fourth time been dropped from helicopters into trees on Guam in an experiment aimed at killing snakes that have devastated the island's bird population and caused other damage.
No, we haven't been duped by something written by The Onion.
Gold is assumed to have eternal, inherent value, but what makes it valuable? And what determines its value now that it's no longer the basis of our currency? In the book Gold: The Race for the World's Most Seductive Metal, journalist Matthew Hart examines the new gold rush driven by investors. He travels to gold mines — including the Mponeng mine in South Africa, where he descended into the deepest man-made hole on Earth — and investigates why gold and crime sometimes go hand in hand.
There are great ballplayers, and then there's Ted Williams. In a 22-year career, Williams accomplished things that give him a legitimate claim to being the greatest hitter who ever lived; but he was also a tormented soul who hurt a lot of people, including himself.