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Turkey | WH-listed Hagia Sophia opens as working mosque for first time in 86 years, angering critics

ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sealed his long-stated desire to restore the historic Hagia Sophia as a working mosque on Friday, opening the magnificent Byzantine structure built in the sixth century as the world’s largest cathedral to thousands of Muslim worshipers for the first time in nearly nine decades.

Huge crowds began gathering even in the pre-dawn hours around Hagia Sophia, to attend Friday Prayer, a crowning moment for Mr. Erdogan after 18 years at the helm of Turkish politics.

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