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Mosque re-opens for prayer after 50 years

Representatives on both sides said on Friday that the ongoing restoration of mosques and churches on across the divide was sending a message of understanding and tolerance.
They were speaking at the inauguration of the Deneia mosque as part of the work of the b-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. The mosque has just been restored and was open for prayer yesterday.
Deneia had a total of 128 Turkish Cypriots and 170 Greek Cypriots prior to the intercommunal troubles.
Now there are 520 Greek Cypriots and only one Turkish Cypriot family living in the village, which is located outside of Nicosia.
Villagers and Turkish Cypriots who lived in Deneia before the troubles were present at the ceremony.
In his address, Greek Cypriot co-chairman of the Technical Committee Takis Hadjidemetriou said: “A new message emerges from the churches and the mosques that we restore, a message of understanding and tolerance, a message for the Cyprus of tomorrow, in which priests and imams along with common people, Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike, will walk along the pathway of peace”.
He said the mosque was in ruins when the engineers and contractor commenced restoration work and halfway, “the forces of hatred and intolerance reminded us of their presence”. In January 2013, as conservation work was underway, vandals demolished two walls.
Turkish Cypriot co-chairman of the Technical Committee, Ali Tuncay said this was the first time in almost 50 years that the mosque was open and he was happy to see it reach this stage. The symbolism of this project is very important, he said. “When we work and cooperate, we produce results. And by producing results we come together and heal the mistakes of the past”.
Community leader Christos Panagiotou said it was a great day for Deneia. “We believe that peoples and communities should build bridges because only through peace we can survive,” he said.
Tiziana Zennaro, Programme Manager of the United Nations Development Programme, said in the beginning, the works carried out were of an emergency nature but as they continued and with the collapse of the walls, the whole structure was strengthened.
The project showed how cultural cooperation can be the cornerstone for a better future, she added.
Alessandra Viezzer, head of Programme Team at the EU Programme Support Office EUPSO said that the mosque in Deneia is another example of successful partnership.
She said now the focus should shift and become more ambitious. Viezzer also said that she was convinced there is light at the end of the tunnel in Cyprus and announced that apart from the €5.3 million allocated for the Technical Committee from the EU for the period 2012-2014, a further €1.4 million would be approved by the end of this year.
“Life together is not only possible but must be achieved,” she said
Imam Mustafa Samile told the Cyprus News Agency: “We are all brothers and this is part of our brotherhood”. He said he was very happy to be at the mosque. “It is the best feeling to be here and pray after 50 years”.
Speaking on behalf of the Morphou Bishopric, Father Kyriakos said he was very moved by the restoration of the mosque. “More things, good things will come,” he said and cited the church service at Ayios Nicolaos at Sirianohori on Sunday. The church was also recently restored as part of the Technical Committe`s projects.
Work at the mosque began in 2012. It was the first site from a list of 40 selected by the Technical Committee to benefit from emergency measures.
The project was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme Partnership for the Future (UNDP-PFF) and cost approximately €123,667, including works, design, supervision and additional works to the roof, and was fully funded by the EU. (CNA)

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