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An aerial view of Hagia Sophia on July 24. Photo: Directorate of Communications/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Thousands of worshippers prayed together amid the coronavirus pandemic at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Friday for the first time since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the building would transition from museum to mosque, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Orthodox Christian churches in Greece flew their flags at half-staff and tolled bells in protest because the roughly 1,500-year-old building was the largest church in the Christian world for close to a millennium.

What they're saying: While devout Muslim supporters were reportedly happy with the transformation, many Christian leaders cautioned that the change could be "religiously divisive," the Post writes.

  • The director-general of UNESCO criticized the decision earlier in July, saying she "deeply regrets" the status shift of Hagia Sophia.
  • The Trump administration also said it was “disappointed” by the move, per the Post.
A child holding a Turkish flag inside Hagia Sophia on July 24. Photo: Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Protesters outside the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece, on July 24. Photo: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP via Getty Images
People praying outside Hagia Sophia on July 24. Photo: Onur Dogman/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Inside Hagia Sophia on July 24. Photo: Burak Kara/Getty Images

Go deeper

Updated Nov 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Trump and Biden make final push for voters on election eve

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks during a drive-in rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and President Trump at his campaign event in Traverse City, Michigan, on Nov. 2.

President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's contrasting styles and attitudes toward the coronavirus pandemic were starkly evident on their final day of campaigning before the election.

The big picture: Trump held packed rallies as he criss-crossed states, with events in North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin on Monday. Biden's campaign focused on Ohio and Pennsylvania, seen as crucial to the election. His campaigning has been notable for precautions against COVID-19, such as holding drive-in rallies.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.