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Istanbul, July 25, 2020
Thousands of Turkish people attended the first prayers at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia after it has been transformed into a mosque once again.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the prayers inside Hagia Sophia along with several hundreds of invitees.
Many of the worshippers, meanwhile, took part in the prayers at several designated areas outside of the monument.
On July 10, the Turkish State Council had approved the conversion of the status of the historic Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque, prompting sharp criticism from several countries, including Greece and the United States.
The 1,500-year-old monument, which first served as a cathedral and later an Ottoman imperial mosque, reopened its doors as a museum in 1935, a year after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, approved its transformation.