Legal action has been initiated against the bus driver who went viral on social media after taunting the priest at the Apostolos Andreas monastery, according to the north’s ‘interior minister’ Dursun Oguz.
“Apostolos Andreas is considered one of the most important places of worship in our country today. There are many variations in religious freedoms and worship in the TRNC. Respect for religious beliefs and lifestyles is very important,” Oguz said on Thursday.
“In this regard, discriminatory, provocative, and harassing behaviours are unacceptable. For this reason, a complaint was made to the police to initiate the necessary legal action … over this behaviour, which was aimed at disrupting the social peace.”
The bus driver, named Mehmet Erol Muavili, had driven a group of tourists to the Apostolos Andreas monastery. He entered the church himself and began recording himself reciting Islamic prayers.
At a certain point in the video, he chased after the priest, confronting him and repeating the prayers. The priest became irritated and ordered him to leave, before proceeding to ignore him.
Muavili posted the video on social media on Wednesday evening before later taking it down after receiving a fierce backlash from Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots alike.
The story comes at a time of heightened tensions surrounding the Apostolos Andreas monastery, with plans currently afoot to convert unused buildings on the site to be used for Islamic prayer. The plans are currently “on hold”, though the north’s ‘transport minister’ Erhan Arikli later insisted they have “not been abandoned”.
Papazın yanında Kelime-i Şehadet getirdi, toplumu din üzerinden gerdi
Apostolos Andreas Manastırı’na turist götürmek için giden Mehmet Erol Muavili isimli kişi, manastırda kelime i şehadet getirdi, toplumu din üzerinden gerdi. pic.twitter.com/7OE3iqGyEE
— Kıbrıs Postası (@kibris_postasi) August 17, 2023