Mourning bells filled a number of Greek cities on Friday, July 24, in connection with the first Muslim prayer in St. Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. Church moisture in the country’s temples was also lowered. This is reported by the church news agency “Romphea”.
The bells rang about Aya Sophia in the temples of Thessaloniki, Patras and all the islands of the Dodecanese.
Archbishop Zlatoust II of Cyprus called the decision to turn Ayia Sophia into a mosque unacceptable, as the voices and opinions of neither of the heads of state, religious leaders and international communities were taken into account.
“This fact saddens us not only as Orthodox Christians, but also all Christians, as well as all people who respect the right to freedom of religion and cultural creativity,” the clergy quotes the agency.
Earlier on the same day, the first Friday prayer was completed in the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Istanbul, which was turned into a mosque after 1934. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated in the prayer, saying the first Sura from the Koran, “Al-Fatihu”, before the start of the divine service.
Nakaunene reported that the first Islamic prayer in Aya Sofia will last 24 hours, from 10 a.m. July 24 to 10 a.m. July 25. Believers were encouraged to bring their personal protective equipment, as well as a prayer mat and “patience and understanding”.
Erdogan signed a decree turning St. Sophia Cathedral into a mosque on July 10. The 1934 agreement on the museum status of the temple was annulled. Tourists of any denomination will be able to visit the cathedral outside the time of services.