Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and around 500 devout Muslims want to meet for the first time on Friday in Hagia Sophia, which has been converted into a mosque, in Istanbul. The effort was enormous, roads around the building were blocked off.
According to the authorities, up to 17,000 security guards should be deployed. On Thursday, three imams were appointed to Hagia Sophia, including Mehmet Boynukalin, a professor of Islamic law at Marmara University. The head of the Turkish religious authority, Ali Erbas, also announced the names of five muezzins that Muslims are to call to Hagia Sophia to pray in the future.
Erdogan had the building from the 6th century in the center of Istanbul declared a mosque by decree two weeks ago after a court decision.
Hagia Sophia was considered the largest and most important cathedral in Christendom before it became a mosque under Sultan Mehmet II after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453. The Turkish founder of the Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who wanted to create a secular-oriented Turkey, converted the mosque into a museum in 1934. It opened a year later. Hagia Sophia was a museum for 86 years until the Supreme Administrative Court ruled on July 10. Christians, western states and cultural institutions sharply criticized the transformation.
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