The ‘Islamisation’ of the north of the island was the topic of a round-table discussion at the 20th World Conference of Overseas Cypriots in Nicosia on Thursday.
First Vice President of the Committee of Occupied Municipalities Petros Kareklas spoke of Ankara’s Islamisation policy both in Turkey and in the north.
He referred to the conversion of churches to mosques, the destruction of monuments and the continuous building of new mosques using funds from other Islamic countries. Referring to the Turkish Cypriots said that they were largely secular and that they had reacted to the opening of a huge mosque in Mia Milia next to which a new Islamic religious school was set to operate.
Kareklas said Cyprus needed to raise awareness about what was happening and said that the role of overseas Cypriots was of “particular importance and usefulness”.
“All those in authority internationally, should realise that certain things in Turkish occupied Cyprus “are not a chance occurrence and that if they do not put a stop to it here today, tomorrow it will be too late,” he added.
Michalis Tziortas, chair of the Committee of Occupied Communities spoke of an effort to “Islamise Cyprus by building mosques and cultivating fanaticism” and said it had taken on “uncontrollable dimensions.”
Author of the book “Islamisation of Occupied Cyprus” Petros Savvides gave an account of all the mosques built in the north after the 1974 invasion, the conversion of Greek Orthodox churches to mosques and the modification of existing Turkish Cypriot mosques tripling the height of their minarets.
Between 1974 and 1980, from the 300 orthodox churches existing in the north, 74 were converted to mosques, he said.
At the same time, he added, not a single orthodox cemetery had survived. During his visits there, he said, it was obvious that heavy tools were used to chop the crosses from graves, while the photographs of the departed were heavily scratched or removed. In 21 cases, the new mosques were built in proximity to abandoned churches.