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World News

Erdogan says first prayers in Hagia Sophia on July 24

A Muslim woman holds a placard depicting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as people gather in front of the Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, after a court decision that paves the way for it to be converted from a museum back into a mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 10, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ANKARA (Reuters) - The first prayers will be held in Turkey’s Hagia Sophia on July 24, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, after declaring the ancient monument was once again a mosque following a court ruling revoking its status as a museum.

Erdogan said the nearly 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia would remain open to Muslims, Christians and foreigners, but added that Turkey had exercised its sovereign right in converting it to a mosque and would interpret criticism of the move as an attack on its independence.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Dominic Evans

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