When the first prayer in the former basilica of the hagia Sophia on the 24th of July last, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was present in person. This time, the Turkish president did not attend the first prayer of Eid al-Adha since the conversion into a mosque of this iconic building of Istanbul. Thousands of muslims gathered to pray in the vicinity of the site.
Muslim worshippers waiting for Eid al-Adha prayers in Hagia Sophia, Turkey, for the first time after the historic building was reconverted into a mosque pic.twitter.com/A4F2JylqeQ— Reuters (@Reuters) July 31, 2020
A crowd of the faithful was formed even before the rising of the sun, some of them taking a selfie before the prayer. Because of the pandemic of novel coronavirus, the number of people allowed to pray inside the mosque was limited to a few hundreds. Several thousands of the faithful, therefore, are prostrate on the forecourt of the building.
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senior Turkish officials present
great architectural Work built in the sixth century, the hagia Sophia is an important place for both christians and muslims, having been first a byzantine basilica before being converted into a mosque after the taking of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453. In 1934, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal, has converted the monument into a museum in order to make the symbol of a Turkey is secular.
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But on July 10 last, the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided to return the building to the muslim cult, in the wake of a court decision revoking its status as a museum. This measure has provoked the anger of Greece, the neighboring country of Turkey, which closely follows the fate of the byzantine heritage. Pope Francis is also said to be " very distressed ".