Friday, July 24th marked the first Islamic Friday prayers in the Hagia Sophia since Turkey recently converted the former museum into a mosque and has been described as like a “rock concert” by Swedish media.
Sanna Drysén, who works for the Swedish public radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio, attended the Friday prayers in Istanbul saying, “It is reminiscent of a mixture of rock concert and Friday prayer.”
When asked what locals in Turkey think of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s move to convert the Hagia Sophia, which had formerly been the largest Christian Orthodox church in the world before being turned into a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1934, Drysén said they approved.
“Most people here support this decision and perhaps even more so those who have made an effort to come here. Many also express their appreciation for President Erdogan for making this decision to turn Hagia Sofia into a mosque again,” Drysén said.
World Council of Churches Dismayed by Re-Islamisation of Hagia Sophia https://t.co/1FCxT1GCOY
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 11, 2020
Many countries have slammed the move to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, with the opposition coming from neighbouring Greece, which has a large Orthodox Christian population.
Across Greece on Friday, church bells rang in mourning and flags were flown at half-mast to mark the Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia. On the Greek island of Crete, every single church bell on the island was rung.
“We can not help but raise our heads. We can not stop being who we are. Keep your head up. To raise our nation and our homeland,” Archibishop of Crete Irinaios Athanasiadis said.
Other Greek Orthodox clergy also spoke out about the conversion such as Metropolitan Bishop Dorotheos of the Greek island Syros-Tinos who said, “no church can become a mosque. And if Hagia Sophia endured the Fall and endured the pain, it will endure this pain at this difficult time. Hagia Sophia will always be in our hearts that no one will be able to devalue.”