Allegations of new Hagia Sophia vandalism

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Images shared on social media showing visitors at the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia removing small pieces from the interior walls of the former Christian Byzantine cathedral have prompted fresh concerns regarding the protection of Istanbul’s crowning architectural jewel, after Turkish authorities annulled its status as a museum and converted it into a mosque.

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Photographs posted on Twitter, which were later published on the Gazete Duvar website, show women scratching the walls and placing little pieces into plastic bags as souvenirs.

The report has not been independently confirmed.

News reports of the vandalism of the Imperial Gate of Hagia Sophia drew condemnation from Greek authorities in April.