Thousands of people on May 13 performed the morning Eid al-Fitr prayer at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, despite the COVID-19 full lockdown.
Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), led the prayer with a sword in hand, presenting an Ottoman tradition of conquest.
Turkisn Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, and Fatih Mayor Ergün Turan joined the huge crowds at Hagia Sophia.
Turkey on April 29 started a strict lockdown that will last until May 17 amid a surge in COVID-19 infections. It is the country’s most severe lockdown since the onset of the COVID pandemic.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) allowed the mosques to remain open during this 17-day period.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Hagia Sophia a mosque last year, after a top court ruled the ancient building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.