The Turkish president on Monday said he believed the reversion of Hagia Sophia from museum to mosque pleased believers of any religion.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks came after a press conference which was conducted following a Cabinet meeting at the capital Ankara and continued for over 2.5 hours.
Referring to criticism directed by certain foreign powers against Turkey following the reversion of the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, Erdogan vowed that the Turkish government would not let anyone interfere with the country’s internal affairs and values.
The Turkish leader underlined that a total of 500 guards would permanently protect the architectural gem.
Friday’s historic prayers in Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years.
Some 350,000 Muslims took part in Friday prayers both inside and outside the historic mosque in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.
On July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use as a mosque.
Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.
In 1985, during its time as a museum, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Besides being a mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.