Istanbul: Update: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said the first Muslim prayers at Istanbul's famed Hagia Sophia would be performed on July 24 after a top court annulled its museum status.
"God willing, we will perform Friday prayers all together on July 24 and reopen Hagia Sophia to worshipping," Erdogan said in an address to the nation. "Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims."
A top Turkish court on Friday revoked the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia's status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque, the official Anadolu news agency reported.
The Council of State, which was debating a case brought by a Turkish NGO, cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision and ruled the UNESCO World Heritage site would be reopened to Muslim worshipping.