Muslims around Europe hailed the opening of Turkey’s Hagia Sophia Mosque to worship after 86 years with Friday prayer, Anadolu Agency reported.
Vehbija Secerovic, muezzin of the historic Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the decision.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Brussels, Suleyman Murtaza said that opening Hagia Sophia for worship is a very important development for the Muslim world.
“I saw Erdogan praying there. I also watched it live. It was magnificent,” he said.
Belgian Muslim Dema Habib also praised the move.
“I haven’t seen the mosque, but I would love to see it,” Habib added.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Stockholm, Iraqi-origin Karwan Mohammed Abubakir said: “I am very happy that Hagia Sophia opened as a mosque again. Praise to Allah, it has opened with the Friday prayer, we are very happy.”
“We are grateful to those who contributed to turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque,” said Ahmed Eltantavi, another Swedish Muslim.
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.
Friday’s historic prayers marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years.
Some 350,000 people took part in the traditional Friday prayers at the historic mosque in Istanbul.
Before the prayers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited from the Quran inside the reopened mosque, choosing verses from both the Surah Al-Fatihah and the Surah Al-Baqarah.
Besides being a working mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations for domestic and foreign visitors alike.
In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 – nearly 500 years.