A senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday congratulated Turkey for reopening the Hagia Sophia Mosque after 86 years as a museum.

“We congratulate the Turkish people for this important Islamic success,” Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Ali Khamenei told Iranian state television.

Velayati also criticized US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for recent comments urging Ankara to reconvert the Hagia Sophia into a museum.

“His ancestors converted all museums of the world into churches. The Hagia Sophia, which has been a mosque for 500 years, will remain as a mosque until the apocalypse,” Velayati stressed.

Ankara has maintained that conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque was its internal matter.

On July 24, Friday prayers in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first Muslim acts of worship there in 86 years.

The Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.

In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Besides being a mosque, the Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz

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