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Hagia Sophia to cover Christian mosaics and scrap fees as mosque

Turkey's conversion of monument raises questions on balancing history and faith

Hagia Sophia's interior is decorated with both Islamic calligraphy and Christian paintings, reflecting the structure's complex history.   © Reuters

ISTANBUL -- Christian mosaics at Hagia Sophia will be covered during prayer after its conversion into a mosque, Turkey's ruling party has decided, as the country prepares to reopen the historic structure for worship despite mounting international criticism.

The conversion has triggered debate regarding the treatment of Christian mosaics, frescoes and other artwork inside the building. An AKP spokesperson on Monday said the plan was to cover them with a curtain or lasers during Muslim prayer, though it is unclear how this would work in a structure more than 50 meters tall.

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