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

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Updated Sep 13, 2020 - Energy & Environment

West Coast fires kill at least 31 as Oregon braces for "mass fatality event"

An aerial view of a police patrol car driving by apartment homes destroyed by wildfire on Sept. 12. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Deadly wildfires sweeping the West have displaced tens of thousands of people, per AP, as officials in Oregon warn of a "mass fatality event."

Of note: 10 deaths have been confirmed in Oregon, 20 in California, and one in Washington state this fire season. Most fatalities have occurred this past week. The death tolls are expected to rise sharply in coming days.

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.