Local and foreign tourists visit the Byzantine era monument of St. Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, Sept. 28, 2004. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)
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Before dawn in Istanbul, during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a turbaned Turkish preacher kneels on a prayer carpet and prepares to recite verses from the Quran.The museum is the Hagia Sophia, one of the single most emblematic edifices of human civilization.Last year, a Muslim preacher recited the Quran in the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 85 years to mark the opening of an exhibition.But this Ramadan the Turkish authorities have gone a step further, with the state TV religion channel Diyanet TV broadcasting every day of the month the Quran recitation by a different senior Turkish preacher, the most extensive use of the building for religious purposes since it became a museum.After a lengthy legal battle, Turkey's religious affairs authority took repossession of the building – confusingly also called Hagia Sophia – and in 2013 it was reopened again to Muslim believers.
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