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Abbas welcomes Hagia Sophia move

People visit the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) on 17 July 2020. [Şebnem Coşkun - Anadolu Agency]
People visit the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) on 17 July 2020. [Şebnem Coşkun - Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday to express his pleasure that Hagia Sophia has been turned back into a mosque. Abbas congratulated the Turkish people on the move which he expects will be auspicious for the Islamic world, Turkey's Communications Directorate has revealed.

During the presidents' conversation, Turkey-Palestine relations and regional developments were also discussed. President Erdoğan reaffirmed Turkey's commitment to continue to support Palestine and the Palestinian people.

On 10 July, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that turned Hagia Sophia Mosque into a museum. The court decision paved the way for the historic building's reopening as a mosque.

Last Friday, after 86 years, Friday prayers were held in Hagia Sophia. It was a cause of celebration for Muslims not only in Turkey but also around the world. Thousands turned up for the prayer, and were joined by President Erdogan.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453. Bought by the Sultan from the Christian authorities, it was a mosque until 1934. In 1985, during its time as a museum, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. As one of Turkey's top tourist destinations, the building will remain open for visitors of all faiths and none.

READ: Greece condemns burning of Turkey flag in protests

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