Turkish Cypriot Moufti prays in Tahtakale mosque after 51 years
• Reported on Wednesday, 04 June, 2014
Atalay visited mosques in the area following an invitation of Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos B` in the context of the inter – faith dialogue which takes place under the auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, in Nicosia.
On behalf of Archbishop Chrysostomos, who is abroad, Father Savvas welcomed Atalay and expressed the Church of Cyprus` thanks to the Swedish government and the Embassy for their efforts which made inter – faith dialogue possible.
During the talks, he noted, promoting freedom of religion has been achieved. On this principle, he added, we seek to have access to all our monuments, to restore them so that they can operate for the purpose for which they were built.
He recalled that due to the progress achieved in this process, several religious monuments have been restored by EVKAF and joint visits with the participation of representatives of the Church of Cyprus have taken place in the entire island. We were thus able to point out a certain number of monuments, he said, adding that these monuments were repaired and that the ultimate goal will be to restore all the religious monuments of Cyprus once a solution is found.
“It is very beautiful to be present here is very beautiful and is proof that our bad feelings can be healed and turned into good feelings after some time”, Atalay said.
He thanked the government and Embassy of Sweden and Archbishop Chrysostomos.
After 51 years, he added, “inshallah (with God`s will) we are going to offer our prayers in this Turkish quarter in this mosque”.
He expressed the belief that permanent peace in Cyprus will be a good example for the whole region and the message of peace in Islam joining together with the message of peace from the other faiths is going to play an important role in this.
In the past we lived peacefully and in the future we can still live peacefully and this is a very good step for that peaceful existence, he pointed out.
On his part EVKAF chairperson Rauf Ersenal recalled his own personal story which is connected with this quarter, since he was born here and left with his family in 1963 when he was four years old.
“We were told we were the only ones suffering. We thought we were the only ones crying”, he said, adding however that three weeks ago when at the first ceremony in the Armenian monastery, he had the opportunity to meet Armenians who were also forced in the past to abandon their homes.
“We share many things, most importantly the humanity we share with each other”, he said, adding that “we found out that we also share tears and have strong brotherhood relations”.
In a short statement Swedish Ambassador in Nicosia Klas Gierow said the visit is “important and historical”.
“It is concrete proof that confidence building is possible”, he pointed out. We see it today, we have seen it before, he said, adding that “there is still some way to go”.
The Swedish Ambassador expressed the view that the visit bodes well for the future. I think, he said, “that the religious track and all the people that are involved in it have shown that we can continue to work and make continuous progress”. — (KYPE)