Ankara announced the decision to close the icons of Hagia Sophia during the first prayer

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalyn said on Sunday that icons and murals in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul would be covered with curtains during the first Muslim prayer, which will take place on July 24.

“A limited number of people will be allowed to enter the mosque (for the first namaz). Our President will also take part in it. Friday prayers will be performed on the first floor. The lighting system will not work (murals and icons) will be covered with curtains,” he said.

The Turkish state Council annulled the decision of 1934 to turn the Hagia Sophia into a Museum. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he signed a decree to turn the Cathedral into a mosque and start Muslim services there from July 24.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held telephone talks with Erdogan, during which the head of Turkey guaranteed access for everyone to this cultural monument and the safety of Christian shrines.