Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosted the first Muslim prayer in 86 years on Friday. The prayer session was also graced by the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since the dawn of this Friday, a crowd of faithful gathered at the door of the imposing Haghia Sofia.
The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, announced today that he was “very distressed” by the conversion of the old basilica of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The pontiff spoke after the Sunday prayer of the Angelus. “The sea carries my thoughts farther, to Istanbul. I’m thinking of Santa Sofia,” Pope Francis said.
The 10th Chamber of the Turkish Council of State annulled a decision of the Council of Ministers, dated 24 November 1934, regarding the conversion of Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum, with the decision published on Friday. With that, Hagia Sophia will open to Muslim worship on Friday, July 24.
The Council of State in Turkey is considering a request by several organizations to convert the former Hagia Sophia Church into a new mosque. Anatolia News Agency reported that the decision may be made within the next 15 days at the latest. The issue has raised a great deal of concern from abroad.