Cleric asks for Hagia Sophia to be used as a mosque
ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Believers flocked to mosques to perform their Eid prayers on Oct. 15. AA photoThe chief cleric of Istanbul’s historical Sultanahmet Mosque requested the transformation of the Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque during Eid prayers on Oct. 15, saying that his own mosque was becoming increasingly crowded.
“Sultanahmet Mosque overflowed with people today, but Hagia Sophia was deprived from the community. Hagia Sophia should be allowed to operate as a mosque. I hereby voice our request [to the government] on behalf of you,” said Mustafa Akgül to those gathered.
“[Democracy] Packages are being announced and our brothers are voicing their demands via them,” Akgül added, referring to the democratization package unveiled by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sept. 30.
The sermon came after the Eid prayer led by the Deputy of Religious Affairs Director Hasan Kamil Yılmaz.
The status of Hagia Sophia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a number of campaigns to open it for Muslim prayers being initiated, despite claims that this would be disrespectful to the building’s past as a church.