Erdoğan leads first prayers at Hagia Sophia museum reverted to mosque

Jul 27, 2020 by

Turkish president recites Qur’an at monument as Greece declares day of mourning,

By Bethan McKernan, Guardian:

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has led worshippers in the first prayers in Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia since his controversial declaration that the monument, which over the centuries has served as a cathedral, mosque and museum, would be turned back into a Muslim house of worship.

The Turkish leader and an entourage of senior ministers arrived for the service in the heart of Istanbul’s historic district on Friday afternoon, kneeling on new turquoise carpets while sail-like curtains covered the original Byzantine mosaics of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

Erdoğan began the service with a recital from the Qur’an before the head of Turkey’s religious authority, Ali Erbas, continued the formal prayers for hundreds of specially invited attendees and the call to prayer rang out from the building’s minarets.

“This is Hagia Sophia breaking away from its chains of captivity. It was the greatest dream of our youth,” Erdoğan said before the reopening. “It was the yearning of our people and it has been accomplished.”

…Leading opposition figures have for the most part refused to engage in Turkey’s latest polarising political issue, either ignoring the Hagia Sophia decision or offering muted support.

Internationally, however, the monument’s rebirth as a mosque has been greeted with dismay, drawing criticism from the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, Pope Francis and several Orthodox church leaders around the world.

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Statement by Continuing Evangelical Episcopal Communion condemning the conversion of Hagia Sophia for use as a mosque:

We agree with the assessment of Archbishop Ieronymos, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of Athens and all Greece, who said, “this outrage and the arrogance doesn’t just concern the Orthodox Church and Christianity but all of civilized humanity… independently of religion.”

Read statement in full here

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