Some non-governmental Turkish media draw attention to the fact that before the decision to convert Hagia Sophia in the Byzantine district of Istanbul from a museum to a mosque, many churches in eastern Turkey had been turned into mosques, one of which is now in Gaziantep (Ayntap, Historical Armenia).
Called Surb Astvatsatsin, this church was designed by famous Armenian architect Sargis Palyan and built by Sargis Tashchyan in Ayntap in 1873-1893. Since 1920, it has been used as a prison.
In 1980, by the decision of Abdulkadir Aksu, one of the former governors of Gaziantep who would later become the Minister of Internal Affairs of Turkey, changes were made in the Armenian church, and it was turned into a mosque.
The source reports that the historic building has not lost its former appearance. The church is now called the Kurtulmush Mosque and is considered one of the largest mosques in Gaziantep. The crosses carved on the outer and inner walls of the church are overhung by arches. The bell tower of the church was turned into a minaret.
It is noted that the church bell, which weighed about 1 ton, was made in Brazil at the expense of Armenian philanthropist Hrant Keshkerian, who lived in London at the time. The bell is now in the Gaziantep Museum.