Islamic prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to mark 567th anniversary of Ottoman conquest
Islamic prayers were on May 29 recited at the Hagia Sophia museum to commemorate the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. President Erdoğan joined the Quran recital via videoconference and addressed the nation in a speech.
The Turkish government on May 29 celebrated the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul with an Islamic prayer at the 6th-century Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Conquest Sura, a section of the Quran, was recited at the contested building as part of a program held by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan joined the Quran recital via videoconference and addressed the nation in a speech.
“I wish from God for this nation to be endowed with more conquests, triumphs and successes. I present my gratitude to all who have not left Hagia Sophia alone on this meaningful day. It is very important for the 567th anniversary of the conquest [of Istanbul] to be marked with a recital of the Conquest Sura and prayers at Hagia Sophia, which has been entrusted to us by Fatih [Sultan Mehmed],” he said.
A firework display also took place on the historical peninsula.
Hagia Sophia, which was the main cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, was converted into a mosque with the Ottoman conquest of the city, then known as Constantinople, in 1453.
In 1935, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the modern Turkish Republic’s founder, converted the building into a museum that attracts millions of tourists, but some Islamic groups want it reconverted into a mosque.
Erdoğan, who himself previously recited prayers inside Hagia Sophia, has over the years suggested turning the domed complex back into a place of worship.
Greece has in the past protested the use of Hagia Sophia for religious purposes.