Illustrations or photos on Turkish condition tv showed crowds of Muslims praying in and about the mosque on Friday early morning.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated in the Friday prayers, exactly where he recited verses of the Quran.
Some persons arrived from outside Istanbul and invested the evening close to Hagia Sophia ready for the prayer, according to CNN Turk.
Only 500 people had been invited inside of the setting up because of coronavirus limits, according to Turkey’s spiritual affairs director Ali Erbas. Countless numbers far more prayed in the garden and in Sultanahmet Sq. in Istanbul’s aged city.
Very last week, Erdogan ordered the conversion of the historic monument following a courtroom annulled a 1934 presidential decree that created it a museum.
The determination, involving a single of the city’s most crucial landmarks and a UNESCO Environment Heritage website, has been criticized by intercontinental spiritual and political leaders, with UN cultural agency UNESCO amid individuals voicing problem.
Even so, the transfer has not prompted wide opposition within Turkey.
The Turkish govt has tried out to reassure skeptics that the building’s Christian artworks and frescoes will not be touched, with engineering alternatively staying made use of to conceal them in the course of Friday prayers.
Erdogan has positioned himself as a pal of conservative Islamists in Turkey, moving the state more from people secularist roots.
UNESCO claimed before this thirty day period that it “deeply regrets” Turkey’s determination and that the choice was designed without the business getting prior notification.
Turkish officers have emphasised that when it is not getting utilised as a mosque, the Hagia Sophia — which is well known with vacationers browsing Istanbul — will be open to all to stop by free of charge, according to point out-operate information company Anadolu.
Erdogan employed a televised speech on July 10 to urge folks to respect the determination to convert the making again to a mosque.
“Like all our mosques, its doorways will be open to everybody — Muslim or non-Muslim. As the world’s frequent heritage, Hagia Sophia with its new position will maintain on embracing everyone in a extra sincere way,” he explained.
“We will be dealing with each feeling voiced on the global phase with regard. But the way Hagia Sophia will be employed falls underneath Turkey’s sovereign legal rights. We deem each individual shift that goes over and above voicing an feeling a violation of our sovereignty.”
CNN’s Isil Sariyuce and Arwa Damon claimed from Istanbul and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. Emma Reynolds contributed to this report.