July 11, 2020 / 3:53 AM / a month ago

Erdogan says first prayers in Hagia Sophia on July 24

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers a televised address to the nation in Ankara, Turkey, July 10, 2020. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - The first prayers will be held in Turkey’s Hagia Sophia on July 24, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after declaring the ancient monument was once again a mosque following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.

Erdogan said the nearly 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners, but added that Turkey had exercised its sovereign right in converting it to a mosque and would interpret criticism of the move as an attack on its independence. [nL8N2EH3HM]

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Dominic Evans

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