Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Hagia Sophia for the first prayer in 86 years. Members of the country’s government and parliament will also take part in the service. Footage from the ceremony, broadcast by Anadolu, shows that the president, like the rest of the attendees, is wearing a mask.
On July 23, it was reported that the first Islamic prayer in the Hagia Sophia will last a day, from 10 am on July 24 to 10 am on July 25. All this time, 101 ambulances and a helicopter will be on duty near the cathedral. Believers were encouraged to bring personal protective equipment, in particular a mask, as well as a prayer rug and “patience and understanding.”
Erdogan’s plans to participate in the divine service became known on July 19. They were reported by his press secretary Ibrahim Kalyn, reports “Gazeta.Ru”.
Erdogan signed a decree to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque on July 10. At the same time, the agreement on the museum status of the cathedral from 1934 was canceled. However, tourists will be able to visit the cathedral outside of the service hours.
The Turkish leader called on everyone to respect the decision of the country’s authorities to change the status of the cathedral and called his decision a correction of a historical mistake.
Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, commenting on the change in the status of the cathedral, said that this is an internal matter of Turkey. The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed regret over Erdogan’s decision.