World Bulletin / News Desk
The Religious Affairs Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Prof. Dr. Talip Atalay has called on the Greek Cypriot authorities in the south of the island to open the famous Hala Sultan mosque for worship.
Speaking to Turk Ajansi Kibris (Turkish Agency Cyprus), Dr. Atalay said that worshippers should be free to visit the Ottoman-era mosque, which was built near the burial site of a prominent companion and relative of the Prophet Muhammad - Umma Haram.
Having brought up the subject with the visiting US vice-president Joe Biden on Thursday, Dr. Atalay also called on religious leaders in the eastern Mediterranean island to avoid using political rhetoric as peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots continue.
The island of Cyprus is home to various ethno-religious communities. While the island's dominant Greek Orthodox community largely resides in the southern Greek Cypriot-controlled territory, Muslim Turkish Cypriot mainly live in the TRNC.
The island is also home to Cypriot Arabs who belong to the Maronite Church, as well as Armenian Orthodox Christians. The religious leaders of all native communities have been playing a key role in encouraging dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Cyprus.
The Hala Sultan mosque in the Greek Cypriot city of Larnaca had remained abandoned for decades after Turkish Cypriots in the city fled to escape persecution from far-right Greek group EOKA after Turkey secured the north during the 1974 military intervention.
Although Dr. Atalay's assistant Imam Sakir Alemdar has been leading the effort to officially reopen the mosque in recent years, the Greek Cypriot authorities continue to register the site as a museum, subjecting it to museum opening hours.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2014, 14:59