First prayers in Hagia Sophia on July 24: Erdogan  07/11/2020 07:06:18  4  IANS/Istanbul


Filed on July 11, 2020
Erdogan, Hagia Sophia

The first prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, a 1,500 year old Unesco World Heritage site which has now been converted into a mosque, will take place on July 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.

"We plan to open the Hagia Sophia to worshipping on July 24 with Friday prayers," Xinhua news agency quoted Erdogan as saying while addressing the nation on Friday.

"Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims," he added.

Earlier on Friday, the Turkish State Council approved the conversion of the historic museum into a mosque.

"It was concluded that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally," the Council said in its ruling.

"The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws."

In his address to the nation, Erdogan said that the country would welcome every view on this matter, "but the issue of what purpose the Hagia Sophia will be used for concerns Turkey's sovereign rights".

Shortly after the Council's announcement, the first call to prayer was recited at Hagia Sophia and was broadcast on all of Turkey's main news channels, the BBC reported.The cultural site's social media channels have now been taken down.In 1934 it became a museum and is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

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