The President of Turkey asked the citizens of the country not to rush to visit Hagia Sophia for prayers before its doors officially open.
On July 10, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during a video address to the citizens of the country, said that Hagia Sophia would open for Islamic services on Friday, July 24, 2020, according to the Romfea publication.
The Turkish president added that, like in all mosques in the country, “the doors of Hagia Sophia will remain open to all, and there will no longer be entrance fees, as was the case with the museum.”
“When visitors come, they will see that the rumors are not true and that we will preserve the entire cultural heritage of the monument,” he said.
Mr. Erdogan also called Hagia Sophia Cathedral “the pearl of Istanbul” and advised citizens not to rush to visit it before its doors officially open.
The Head of State also called on everyone to “respect the decision on Hagia Sophia made by the judicial and executive bodies of our country,” he stressed in another place.
The Romfea publication notes that during the speech by the Turkish president, “hundreds of Muslims prayed outside Hagia Sophia.”
Earlier, the UOJ wrote that according to Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), changing the status of Hagia Sophia from museum to mosque is a blow to World Orthodoxy.