Turkey condemns arson attack on mosque in Greek Cyprus
AP photoThe Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned an arson attack on a mosque located in Greek Cyprus, while the top Christian and Muslim leaders of Cyprus have said the attack had sowed discord and undermined peace on the island.
The Foreign Ministry said the arson attack on the Denya Mosque located in the Denya region of Greek Cyprus should not be allowed to disrupt negotiations on reunifying the island.
“No one should allow the current positive atmosphere to be affected by these types of attacks, [which come] at a time when the final stage of an extended solution in Cyprus is being reached,” the ministry said Feb. 23.
The In-Cyprus news website reported that authorities believe the attackers lifted roof tiles and poured flammable liquid inside before setting the fire, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The ministry demanded that the assailants be found immediately and brought to justice.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades also condemned the attack on Feb. 22 in separate statements.
The Turkish ministry recalled a previous attack on the mosque in early 2013, after which the building underwent renovation, adding that it was “thought-provoking” that the mosque was attacked a second time.
Meanwhile, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Muslim Mufti Talip Atalay on Feb. 22 also urged authorities to apprehend the perpetrators of the attack, The Associated Press reported.
Chrysostomos called the attack a “reprehensible act of disrespect” that was uncharacteristic of Cypriots’ religious tolerance.
The religious leaders have voiced strong support for ongoing reunification talks between Anastasiades and Akıncı.
The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides after Turkey’s 1974 intervention following a military coup in Greece.
Recent talks, which were re-launched in May 2015, have raised hopes of a reunified island governed by a federal system, a goal Akıncı has said is likely to be achieved by the end of the year.