Hagia Sophia holds first prayer in 86 years

News Desk

The Jumma prayers are being held in the iconic Hagia Sophia by the muslims for the first time in 86 years after the reconversion of the Istanbul landmark into a mosque earlier this month.

According to Al Jazeera report, the Friday prayers took place two weeks after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversially declared the nearly 1,500-year-old monument open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman in the mid-1930s was illegal.

The President Tayyip Erdogan, minister and other top officials have joined hundreds of worshippers inside Hagia Sophia as large crowds gathered outside, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 537 but converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. It was designated a museum in a key reform of the post-Ottoman authorities under the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The Turkish President said last year it had been a very big mistake to convert it into a museum.

Critics however accuse Erdogan, who has been in power for 17 years, of playing to his nationalistic base, with support eroding amid a global economic downtown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.