Peter Kenyon

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.

Prior to taking this assignment in 2010, Kenyon spent five years in Cairo covering Middle Eastern and North African countries from Syria to Morocco. He was part of NPR's team recognized with two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University awards for outstanding coverage of post-war Iraq.

In addition to regular stints in Iraq, he has followed stories to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria, Morocco and other countries in the region.

Arriving at NPR in 1995, Kenyon spent six years in Washington, D.C., working in a variety of positions including as a correspondent covering the US Senate during President Bill Clinton's second term and the beginning of the President George W. Bush's administration.

Kenyon came to NPR from the Alaska Public Radio Network. He began his public radio career in the small fishing community of Petersburg, where he met his wife Nevette, a commercial fisherwoman.

Thousands of people attended prayers at Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia on Friday, completing the famous building's conversion from a secular space into a Muslim house of worship. It had been a museum for more than 86 years.

The crowd was large with people spilling outside and into a plaza and grassy areas near the sixth century building that is revered by both Muslims and Christians. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sat front and center, removing a white face mask to recite passages from the Quran as he sat on a blue carpet.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the Hagia Sophia museum, one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, to be converted into a mosque.

He made the announcement on Friday, hours after a top court cleared the way for him to make the change.

The Hagia Sophia, a major draw for tourists, has a long and complicated history. The architectural marvel was built as a church by the Byzantines in the 6th century and then converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

The bad coronavirus news continues for Iran, but officials are hoping a modest downturn in the growth of new cases will become a trend.

Iranian state television reported Thursday that 1,030 new cases had been confirmed and 90 people had died since Wednesday. That brought the total number of fatalities in Iran to 5,481, continuing Iran's status as the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the virus. But the new daily case numbers are lower than previous days, raising hopes that Iran may be turning the corner in its fight against the virus.

Workers in protective gear are handing out boxes of free medical masks on the street. Bakery trucks roam neighborhoods, delivering bread. Turkish officials plainly grasp the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, at home and abroad: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his government has sent medical equipment and supplies to 34 other countries so far.

But some worry that the government may be putting lives at risk.

The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered shops and battered financial markets around the world. In Turkey, where COVID-19 has so far killed two people and infected nearly 200, schools, universities and many businesses are closed, and large gatherings such as Friday prayers at mosques have been suspended.

Even so, one sector is experiencing a boom. Sales of Turkish-made cologne are skyrocketing. And it's not because people are worried about how they smell.

The woman had had enough. She turned and stormed out of Dr. Rodmanish Pharmacy, before NPR could ask her name.

"No masks, no gloves," she fumed. "They don't have anything here!"

Similar scenes have played out in pharmacies across Iran's capital of Tehran. The outbreak of the new coronavirus has sent Iranians scrambling to avoid becoming another statistic in a country with more deaths from the disease than any besides China.

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The United States military and Kurdish militias were allies for five years fighting against ISIS. Now that has changed. President Trump unexpectedly pulled U.S. troops from near the Syria-Turkey border, and the Kurds were left to fend for themselves.

Updated Tuesday at 8:40 a.m. ET

Tensions continue to rise between the United States and Iran following last week's sharp escalation in which Tehran downed a U.S. drone and the U.S. conducted cyberattacks against an Iranian intelligence group.

On Monday, President Trump announced financial sanctions against Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and several other top officials.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has rejected the U.S. accusations, tweeting that the Trump administration "immediately jumped to make allegations against Iran [without] a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence."

In an earlier tweet, Zarif hinted at a conspiracy, noting that the tankers, one owned by a Japanese firm, occurred as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. "Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired," he wrote.

Turkey has been governed for most of the past two decades by a party steeped in political Islam. So when a pollster recently surveyed personal beliefs, there was a finding that stood out: Levels of piety were flat, or even declining, compared with a decade ago.

The apparent shift is not seismic, but it has Turks talking about where their country is headed.

One of candidate Donald Trump's pledges during the 2016 election campaign was to get tougher on Iran. He slammed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as a lopsided giveaway to Tehran, and promised a return of American sanctions on Iran.

President Trump has been true to his word, making 2018 a difficult year for Iran.

Although other countries have stuck with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed with Iran, Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in May and announced that U.S. economic sanctions on Iran would return in two phases.

Tension is rising between Iran and the United States these days. But Iran's leaders are facing pressure from various sides at home, too.

Ordinary Iranians are mounting protests that refuse to go away, despite a sharp response from the authorities.

The demonstrations began to make news late last year, focusing largely on economic hardship. As those protests continued in cities around the country, another movement re-emerged: young women standing up against the enforcement of conservative Muslim strictures on their dress and behavior.

Two years after a military uprising failed to topple Turkey's leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a tighter grip on power than ever. A three-month state of emergency imposed after the military's July 2016, coup attempt was extended multiple times, but was allowed to expire last week.

On Sunday, voters in Turkey will go to the polls in snap elections called by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. These elections weren't supposed to be held until 2019, but Erdogan moved them forward by more than a year in hopes of catching the opposition flat-footed.

Here's a look at what's at stake.

Who's running?

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