Plans to install a masjid, a Muslim place of worship, on the grounds of the Apostolos Andreas monastery in Karpasia have been put on hold, according to a local mukhtar.

Suleyman Cebi, mukhtar of the Polatpasha neighbourhood of the village of Rizokarpaso, which also covers the Apostolos Andreas monastery, confirmed to the Cyprus Mail that plans had been made to install a masjid on the site.

However, he said, they are now “on hold”, though he said he had not been informed as to the reason for the project being stalled.

Local media reports suggest that the reason for the stoppage was down to a shortage of workers, but this has not yet been officially confirmed.

Rumours of such a project had swirled around Cyprus in recent weeks, with Turkish Cypriot politician Dogus Derya announcing the plans and calling them “a political provocation” in late July.

Reports suggested that Rizokarpaso mayor Hamit Bakirci and Turkish Cypriot religious foundation administration (Evkaf) chairman Ibrahim Benter had planned the project and given it the green light.

Benter reportedly claimed that the Bishop of Karpasia Christophoros had verbally agreed to the plans, but he denied this and said he had not been consulted.

The north’s religious affairs directorate also told the Cyprus Mail it had not received “any clear information” on the issue.

The reports created controversy across Cyprus, with government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis intervening to say the issue was under investigation and calling for the issue to “be approached with due care and mutual respect”.

Former Turkish Cypriot ‘prime minister’ Tufan Erhurman also weighed in on the matter, urging those in favour of the plans to “learn some diplomacy” and “get on the right footing and show that we defend all of the cultural heritage on the island”.

On the other side of the debate, the north’s ‘transport minister’ Erhan Arikli accused those against the plans of having “verbal diarrhoea, which can only be solved by psychologists”.

It is currently unclear if and when the planned project will resume.