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.