Erdogan says first prayers in Hagia Sophia to be on July 24

Turkey would perform the first prayers in Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia on July 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said after the conversion of the monument from a museum into a mosque.

“We plan to open the Hagia Sophia to worshipping on July 24 with Friday prayers,” Erdogan said at a televised address to the nation.

Earlier in the day, the State Council approved the conversion of the historic Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque.

Erdogan said that the country would welcome every view on this matter, “but the issue of what purpose the Hagia Sophia will be used for concerns Turkey’s sovereign rights.”

The 1,500-year-old monument, which first served as a cathedral and later an Ottoman imperial mosque, was transformed into a museum in 1935.