Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

No tit-for-tat ban on Muslims coming south for Bayram

Turkish Cypriot pilgrims at the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque in Larnaca at last year's Ramadan service

Hundreds of Muslim pilgrims from the north are expected to cross on Tuesday to mark the end of the Islamic holiday of Kurban Bayram at the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque in Larnaca.

The department of antiquities said on Monday, the Tekke would be closed to the general public for the day to accommodate the pilgrimage.

The government pledged not to hamper the visit despite the cancellation of an Orthodox church service in the north at the weekend because the Turkish Cypriot authorities said it clashed with Bayram. The move to stop Orthodox faithful from celebrating the feast of Ayios Mamas in Morphou drew huge condemnation on the Greek Cypriot side.

Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Sunday the issue would be taken up with the UN.

Christodoulides said the government was taking very specific steps to respond to what happened over the Ayios Mamas affair.

Asked whether it would affect the visit by Muslims from the north to the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque on Tuesday, the spokesman said: “The enjoyment of religious rights is one of the most basic human rights principles and we always respect the enjoyment of religious rights in our country.

“We are not a pseudo-government. We are Cyprus, an EU member state and move within the framework of EU principles and values and will not pursue tactics aimed at any prohibitions on Turkish Cypriots,” he said.

“I am convinced that the majority of Turkish Cypriots want a future in a reunified country, in an EU member state, and not a future with Turkey.”

 

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