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Greek church bells toll for Hagia Sofia as Greeks protest mosque conversion

Athens, Greece: Church bells across Greece tolled in mourning on Friday, July 24 as the first Islamic prayers in nine decades were held at Hagia Sophia in Turkey, marking the monument's conversion into a mosque.

Most Greeks consider the site, built in 537 AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, as central to their Orthodox Christian religion.
Greek criticism of the conversion has been scathing, underscoring often tense relations between Greece and Turkey. "What is unfolding in Constantinople today is not a demonstration of strength, but proof of weakness," said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a televised address, referring to Istanbul by the old name of the city used by Greeks.

Several hundred Greeks gathered in central Athens, some carrying Greek flags, to stage a demonstration in protest at the conversion.
Greece and Turkey disagree on a range of issues from airspace to maritime zones and ethnically split Cyprus. Tensions upped a notch this week with verbal jousting over the delimitation of their continental shelves in the eastern Mediterranean, an area thought to be rich in natural resources.

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