May 13 2018

Thousands of Muslims perform prayer at Hagia Sophia Museum - daily

Over 2,500 Muslims were at İstanbul’s Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Museum in İstanbul early Saturday morning to perfom prayer, Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported.

Thousands worshippers gathered at the UNESCO world heritage site which Turks have increasingly been calling for to be turned back into a mosque – at 4 a.m., the site said.

Once Christianity’s greatest cathedral, the Ayasofya was built in the 6th century under order of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and stands across the iconic Blue Mosque. The status of the structure, which has been a museum since 1935, has been an ongoing topic of debate, particularly between Greece and Turkey.

Muslim prayer services have been held inside the Hagia Sophia over the years have raised reactions outside Turkey, mainly in Greece.

In the 2016, the Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) held a daily televised reading of the Quran in the Hagia Sophia throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which caused anger from Greece.

In March of this year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lead prayers at the Hagia Sophia in what was believed to be a message to his religious base.