The representative of the Turkish Cypriots residing in Limassol and head of the Tzentit mosque Ayhan Mehmet on Thursday said the acts of vandalism carried out at the Albanian mosque in Limassol, whose walls were found defaced with graffiti earlier this week, “are being exploited for political reasons.”

Government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis on Wednesday said that the graffiti scrawled on the walls of the Limassol mosque “are not racist or religiously intolerant slogans but are related to football teams.”

He added that similar slogans are “unfortunately found on many other walls in the area.”

Echoing Letymbiotis, Mehmet said the issue is turning into a political matter and that the graffiti are simply “sport slogans”, adding, however, that similar graffiti have also been found on the walls of a nearby Turkish Cypriot cemetery.

“We want to clear up the situation” he told Philenews. “We don’t know who wrote these slogans, but the issue should not be turned into a political matter,” he said, suggesting that misleading messages may have been conveyed to the north.

“Someone is trying to exploit the incident by pouring fire over the situation. If you walk around the area, you will see that such graffiti are almost everywhere,” Mehmet said, adding that Turkish Cypriot journalists visited the mosque on Wednesday without knowing the truth and the content of the slogans.

He also refuted claims made by the north’s “foreign ministry’ regarding racist attitudes and intolerance of Greek Cypriots towards the Turkish Cypriot and Islamic community.

Mehmet’s statements follow the reaction of the Turkish Cypriot religious endowment foundation Evkaf, which on Thursday expressed their concern “over the increasing number of attacks on Muslim places of worship.

We are closely monitoring the growing number of attacks on Muslim places of worship in the Republic in recent years and strongly condemn the unfortunate attack on the Albanian mosque,” Evkaf said in a statement.

“We respect all languages, religions, and races, and we urge the authorities to protect all religious monuments.

“These frequent provocative attacks must stop as soon as possible, and the individuals involved in the incident must be identified promptly by the competent authorities.”