The government, the Turkish Cypriot leader and the island’s religious leaders on Monday all condemned vandalism at the Koprulu mosque in Limassol including graffiti with a racist slogan.
According to a statement by the religious leaders of the five main faith communities of Cyprus – Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Armenian Orthodox, Maronite and Latin Catholic – petrol bombs were thrown into the premises of the mosque while the outer wall was vandalised with racist graffiti against Islam and immigrants.
The religious leaders expressed their “united voice” in condemning the acts of vandalism which took place on Sunday night.
“We categorically condemn any and all acts of vandalism and disrespect done to sacred places of worship and we are horrified to see such acts of violence and expression of Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination,” they said.
For the past four years, the statement said, the Koprulu mosque in the Ayios Antonios neighbourhood in Limassol has been one of the positive examples of good and respectful cooperation of all stakeholders involved and the local community association advancing religious freedom.
“As such, acts like these are not only disrespectful to the religious community but to all those who work together to advance respect, human rights and freedom of religion,” the religious leaders said.
The five religious leaders have been engaging in dialogue for the past decade in a bid to help the peace process on the island. The dialogue is under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden.
Government spokesman Kyriacos Kousios said later in the day that the government “strongly condemns” the vandalism at the Korpulu mosque.
“Actions such as those directed against places of worship are unacceptable wherever they come from,” Koushios said, adding that President Nicos Anastasiades gave instructions for an in-depth investigation of the case to bring those responsible to justice.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci also condemned the incident and called on the Greek Cypriot side to act swiftly to investigate, identify, apprehend and punish those responsible.
He said that such acts should not be tolerated and that all places of worship, irrelevant of which religion, were scared sanctuaries which needed to be respected.
Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Ersin Tatar and ‘foreign minister’ Kudret Ozersay called on the government to find those who did it and impose a deterrent punishment on them.