Erdogan’s video of Holy Quran recitation at Hagia Sophia goes viral

By: Anees-ur-Rehman      Published: 11:04 PM, 24 Jul, 2020
Erdogan’s video of Holy Quran recitation at Hagia Sophia goes viral
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recites Holy Quran at Hagia Sophia during Friday prayers.–AFP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recited Holy Quran at Hagia Sophia during Friday prayers offered after 86 years at the historic mosque.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s video of recitation of Holy Quran went viral on the social media. In the video, Erdogan recited verses from the Holy Quran in a beautiful voice.

Thousands of people including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated in the first Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia since the reconversion of the former cathedral into a mosque.

The prayers come after a July 10 ruling revoked the Byzantine-era building’s status as a museum, in place since 1934. Erdogan recited verses from the Holy Quran before the call to prayer was heard from the four minarets of Hagia Sophia. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, tight crowds formed on Friday morning in Istanbul. Several people had spent the night in the area.

The UNESCO World Heritage site in historic Istanbul was first built as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

There were Quranic recitations in the morning in Hagia Sophia before the Friday prayers which Erdogan, Turkish officials and foreign dignitaries attended.

Up to 1,000 people prayed inside the building with many more able to pray outside but faced with such a large flow of people, including some not wearing masks, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said the spaces around Hagia Sophia were swiftly filled.

Erdogan’s decision has also undone part of the secular legacy of Ataturk, who wanted Hagia Sophia as a museum so as to “offer it to humanity”.

The timing of the first prayer is significant. Friday is the 97th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, which set modern Turkey’s borders after years of conflict with Greece and Western powers.

Erdogan, who professes nostalgia for the Ottoman empire, has called for the treaty’s revision in recent years.

In Turkey, Hagia Sophia remains closely associated with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II, known as the Conqueror. An Ottoman military band was in the building’s forecourt on Friday.