A large number of Turkish Muslims accumulated around Hagia Sophia on an early Friday for performing the first prayer there since President Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed the landmark, venerated by Christians and Muslims for nearly 1,500 years, a mosque one more time and opened the monument for Muslims prayer.
Crowds gathered at checkpoints encompassing the notable heart of Istanbul, where a great deal of police cops looked after security. On entering the secured territory the worshipers, wearing face covers, sat on already distanced mats in the city’s Sultanahmet Square.
“We are ending our 86 years of longing today,” said one man, Sait Colak, alluding to the almost nine decades since Hagia Sophia was proclaimed a historical center (museum) and stopped to be a territory for prayers. “Thanks to our president and the court decision today we are going to have our Friday prayers in Hagia Sophia.”
A supreme court of Turkey declared Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum was annulled this month. Erdogan quickly turned around into a mosque, a structure which was a Christian Byzantine church building for a long time before being seized by Ottoman empire and set this up as a mosque until 1934.
The president was planned to attend Friday prayer soon after 1 p.m. alongside a few hundred invitees for the event in the 6th century building. Prior the day, he retweeted a live broadcast of worships occurring.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) July 24, 2020
During his 17-year rule, Erdogan has advocated Islam and religious recognition and sponsored endeavors to reestablish Hagia Sophia’s mosque status. He said Muslims ought to have a legal right to pray there again and raised the issue — famous with numerous devout AKP-voting Turks — during local elections a year ago.
The change activated savage analysis from chapel leaders, who said the transformation to only Muslim prayers gambled developing religious divisions. Turkey says the site will stay open for visitors and its Christian artworks secured as it is.
Erdogan has reshaped Turkey’s modern republic, set up about a century back by the steadfastly secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, lifting a restriction on Muslim headscarves publicly, advancing religious practices and subduing Turkey’s fierce military, when a bastion of Ataturk’s mainstream esteems.
Inside Hagia Sophia, the Christian frescoes and the sparkling mosaics enhancing the enormous arch and focal corridor will be covered by shades during the times of Muslim prayers, yet stay in display for the remainder of the time.