News ID: 271939
Published: 0211 GMT July 24, 2020

First prayers held in Turkey's Hagia Sophia since mosque reconversion

First prayers held in Turkey's Hagia Sophia since mosque reconversion

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday joined the first Muslim Friday prayers attended by thousands in Hagia Sophia since the reconversion of the iconic Istanbul cathedral into a mosque.c

The highest administrative court revoked the sixth-century monument's status as a museum on July 10 and Erdogan then ordered the building to reopen for Muslim worship, AFP wrote.

Wearing an Islamic skullcap, Erdogan recited a verse from the Holy Quran before the call to prayer was heard from the four minarets of Hagia Sophia. Then Ali Erbas, the head of the state religious affairs directorate, delivered the sermon, which was broadcast live on Turkish news channels.

There was such a large flow of people keen to take part in the prayer, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said on Friday morning the spaces in and around Hagia Sophia were swiftly filled.

Aynur Saatci, 49, described it as a "historic moment", saying she was on holiday in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, but came back for the event.

"I immediately cut my holiday short and returned to Istanbul as soon as I knew we could pray in Hagia Sophia," Saatci said. "I'm deeply moved."

"This is the moment when Turkey breaks its chains. Now it can do whatever it wants, without having to submit to the West," Selahattin Aydas, from Germany, said.

"We've been waiting for this for years. I'm very happy. There might be sanctions against Turkey because of this, or the number or tourists may fall but that doesn't change anything for me," Hatip, who manages a souvenir shop near Hagia Sophia, said.

In Greece, churches were in "mourning" with their bells around the country pealed at midday to protest the reconversion.


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