Overseas Cypriots discuss Islamisation of Turkish occupied areas 

The Islamisation of the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus was the topic of a round-table discussion at the 20th World Conference of Overseas Cypriots POMAK-PSEKA-NEPOMAK, which takes place at the Filoxenia Conference Centre, in Nicosia.

Delegates have the opportunity to peruse a photographic and informative exhibition by the Union of Occupied Communities of Cyprus showing the villages in Turkish occupied Cyprus and their churches.

First Vice President of the Committee of Occupied Municipalities Petros Kareklas spoke of the Islamisation policy followed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan both in Turkey and in the Turkish occupied areas.

He referred to the conversion of churches to mosques, the destruction of monuments and the continuous building of new mosques using funds of other Islamic countries. Referring to the Turkish Cypriots said that they were largely secular and that they reacted to the opening of a huge mosque in the Turkish occupied village of Mia Milia next to which a new Islamic religious school is set to operate.

Kareklas pointed out that Cyprus needs to spread to raise awareness about what is happening around the world and said that overseas Cypriots role is of “particular importance and usefulness”. All those in authority internationally should realise that certain things in Turkish occupied Cyprus “are not a chance occurrence and that if they do not put a stop to it here today, tomorrow it will be too late for other places, for all,” he stressed.

On his part, Michalis Tziortas, who is chairing the Committee of Occupied Communities praised overseas Cypriots for the contribution to Cyprus and the effort over the Cyprus problem.

He also spoke of an effort to firmly Islamise Cyprus by building mosques and cultivating fanaticism, noting that it has taken “uncontrollable dimensions.”

Tziortas asked overseas Cypriots to make the case before powerful decision-making centres in order to stop the Islamisation of Cyprus’ occupied areas and to exert pressure to Turkey for a just Cyprus solution.”

Author of the book “Islamisation of Occupied Cyprus” Petros Savvides spoke during his presentation of “an intervention on the natural simplicity and historical character of the occupied areas.”

Savvides gave an account of all the Islamic style mosques built in the Turkish occupied areas after the 1974 invasion, the conversion of Greek Orthodox churches to mosques and the modification of existing Turkish Cypriot mosques tripling the height of their minarets.

Between 1974 and 1980 from the 300 orthodox churches existing in the occupied areas, 74 were converted to Islamic mosques, he said.

At the same time, he added, not a single orthodox cemetery survived. During his visits there, he said, it was obvious that heavy tools were used to chop the crosses from graves, while the photographs of the departed were heavily scratched or removed.

In 21 cases, the new mosques were built in proximity to abandoned churches, insinuating the prevailing new Islamic dynamic over Christian spirituality, he noted.

PSEKA President Philip Christopher and other delegates expressed their readiness to help in the effort to deal with the Islamisation of the Turkish occupied areas and asked authorities to provide them with the necessary material so they can raise awareness in their countries of residence.

Earlier today, the President of PSEKA, POMAK and NEPOMAK presented their activity reports, while Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis briefed subsequently conference participants about the issue of hydrocarbons and Cyprus’ energy policy.

Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou and the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons Leonidas Pantelides also informed delegates during a closed session about the issue of missing persons.

A round table discussion followed with the participation of US Ambassador Judith G. Garber, Greek Ambassador Elias Fotopoulos, French Ambassador René Troccaz, Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Revel and UK High Commissioner Stephen Lillie.

A briefing on defence diplomacy followed in the afternoon by Chief of Cyprus` National Guard, Elias Leontaris.

NEPOMAK, POMAK and PSEKA Presidents, together with the Presidential Commissioner will address a press conference on Friday.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, on July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.