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Turkey will cover Hagia Sophia mosaics with lasers during prayers

Mosaics in Istanbul’s ancient Hagia Sophia will be covered by curtains or lasers during times of Muslim prayer, the spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party said on Monday, after President Tayyip Erdogan declared that the museum would be converted into a mosque.


On Friday, a Turkish court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum in 1934 was unlawful and Erdogan, declaring it a mosque, said the first prayers would be held there within two weeks.

The move drew international criticism and concern, including from Greece, the United States and Russia, as well as UNESCO and Pope Francis, who said he was hurt by the decision.

Greece condemned the decision on Friday, saying it would have repercussions on relations between the two countries and on Turkey’s ties with the European Union. The U.S. State Department said it was “disappointed” by the move.

The leader of Italy’s League party, Matteo Salvini, led a demonstration outside the Turkish consulate in Milan to protest against the decision.

“I would stop every kind of financial aid to the Turkish regime and I would terminate once and for all any hypothesis of Turkey entering the European Union because we have given more than 10 billion euros to a regime that transforms churches into mosques and I think they have gone over the limit,” he said.

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