ISTANBUL: Friday’s historic prayers in Turkey’s Hagia Sophia Mosque marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years. Thousands of people took part in the traditional Friday prayers both inside and outside the historic mosque in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.
Before the Friday prayers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited from the Quran inside the reopened mosque, choosing from both the Surah Al-Fatihah and the Surah Al-Baqarah.
Later, four muezzins from the mosque’s four minarets recited the adhan, or call to the prayer, and the people started the Friday prayers.
After the historic prayer, President Erdogan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli visited the tomb of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Fatih Sultan Mehmet, who conquered Istanbul from the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century.
During the visit to the tomb of the Hagia Sophia Mosque’s “owner,” Erdogan noted that restoring the landmark as a mosque had only been made possible after 86 years with the joint efforts of the People’s Alliance — comprising of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and Bahceli’s MHP — and with the “judiciary now seeing the truth.”
Erdogan added that 350,000 people attended to Friday prayer in Hagia Sophia Mosque.
“As a cultural heritage of all humanity, it [Hagia Sophia Mosque] is a place where people of all religions can come and visit,” Erdogan said.
He underlined that the monument now returned to its “roots” and would serve all believers.
“Now, this place has returned to its roots, it was a mosque and became a mosque again. Now, I hope it will continue to serve all believers forever as a mosque.”