Turkey illuminates Hagia Sophia with ‘no God but Allah’ banner

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia was adorned with a traditional illuminated sign, known as mahya, on Friday, NTV network reported, 87 years after the last mahya was used on the iconic structure.

“There’s No God But Allah” (La ilahe illallah) the sign stretched across the minarets of the mosque, which was lit by Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, says.

In a controversial move, Turkey last July reconverted the 6th century structure into a mosque, reopening it for prayers after 86 years.

Hagia Sophia was the first cathedral in the Roman Empire. After a thousand years, it was converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire following the conquest of Constantinople. 

The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, converted the mosque into a museum in 1930. The structure remained as such until last summer’s transformation, which was met with international condemnation.

Mahyas are an Ottoman tradition and trademark of Istanbul mosques during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and contain religious verses or encouragement for good deeds.