Turkish Muslims pray at Hagia Sofia museum in protest at prayer ban

Two people have performed prayers inside the famous Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul to protest its closure to prayers, comparing it to measures taken by Israel at Masjid Al-Aqsa in occupied Jerusalem.

The two identified as Halil Akyaman and Mahmut Alan arrived at the museum and suddenly began to pray inside. Security forces waited for them to finish praying and then immediately moved them away from the museum.

The duo said they had prayed to protest the museum’s closure to prayers.

“Israel entered the al-Aqsa Mosque at 3 a.m. yesterday. [The Hagia Sophia] is not a museum but a mosque. There is a lock clamped on Muslims. [Ottoman] Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror conquered it. This is a mosque and I am performing my prayers. [Israelis] entering the al-Aqsa Mosque in combat boots and people entering [the Hagia Sophia] with shoes are the same thing,” one of the men reportedly said.

The Hagia Sofia was originally a Christian cathedral before being transformed into a mosque under the Ottomans. It was then made into a museum under the secular Turkish Republic.

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