A man gestures as people wait for the beginning of Friday prayers outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, for the first time after it was once again declared a mosque after 86 years, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Istanbul: Several thousand people including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated on Friday in the first Muslim prayers at Hagia Sophia since the controversial 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 a verse from the Quran before the call to prayer was heard from the four minarets of Hagia Sophia.