Thousands of Muslims have gathered outside of Hagia Sophia to conduct the first prayer after its official conversion into a mosque tonight.
Waves of people were scattered across the road outside the former Christian Cathedral waiting to enter and pray, solidifying the building’s conversion into a mosque.
The Turkish high court ruled that Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia was to be converted back into a mosque on July 10 following the request of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Hagia Sophia was built 1,500 years ago as an Orthodox Christian cathedral during the Byzantine Empire, and was since turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited by millions of tourists each year.
“Owing to its historical significance, the conversion of the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul – a unique architectural monument – into a museum will gratify the entire Eastern World and will cause humanity to gain a new institution of knowledge” – Turkish Council of Ministers, 24 November 1934.
The sixth-century building had been open to all visitors, regardless of their faith, since its inauguration as a museum in 1935.
It’s understood that the Turkish Presidents actions are an attempt to cause greater tension with their Eastern neighbours.
“This decision clearly affects not only Turkey’s relations with Greece but also its relations with the European Union, UNESCO, and the world community as a whole,” Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.