The ‘president’s’ office in the north said on Tuesday they are “very concerned with the developments” at Hala Sultan Tekke, after reports surfaced that a taverna was being built in the area.
The issue broke over the weekend when cat lovers took to social media to express their deep discontent over statements that the cat shelters near the mosque were to be removed with little notice.
The ‘presidency’ in a written statement states that on the order of Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar there was communication with the Greek Cypriots side through the bicommunal technical committee on cultural heritage, and the message was conveyed that “there is great concern about the developments”, as well as that “the inappropriate use of the surrounding space of the tekke will not be tolerated.”
According to the statement from the north, “The Greek Cypriot authorities stated that a licence was given for a café, which visitors of Hala Sultan and the Salt Lake can use appropriately, and that there will not be other use of the area, which will close at 7pm.”
Imam of the tekke Sakir Alemdar said that previously there was a taverna operating in the same area, but that a complaint had been filed against it and it ceased operations.
“All the subsequent governments went along with this decision,” he said.
He added that he would meet the mayor of Larnaca on Wednesday over the issue.
“We do not want a recreational place there in a way that does not reflect us,” he said.
He added that Hala Sultan Tekke is one of the most holy sites for Muslims.
The tomb near the mosque is known to belong to Umm Haram, Prophet Muhammad’s wet nurse who was killed on that spot after falling from her mule.
She was the wife of one of the most high-ranking officers of Caliph Moawia, who led two raids against Cyprus in 649 and 650 AD.