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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.

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.