Prof. Dr. Ata ATUN

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 16 Nisan 2007 Saat : 5:08


The heavy and loud Greek propaganda blames Turkish Cypriots for the destruction of Christian monuments with in the territories of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but this one sided and in the majority of the cases, deceiving Greek propaganda never mentions the Ottoman or Turkish monuments destroyed by the Greeks.


In 1963 the Greek/Greek Cypriot ambition to achieve Enosis (the union of Cyprus with Greece), culminated in a terrible onslaught, with much bloodshed, on the unarmed Turkish Cypriot people, depriving them of their fundamental human rights, left thousands of them dead, wounded, missing and uprooted from their homes.


An important aspect of these attacks was the deliberate destruction of over 100 mosques, shrines and other precious Ottoman and Islamic antiquities. This took place in 103 towns and villages which the Turkish Cypriots were forced to abandon.


The persecution of Moslem Turks of Cyprus between 1963-1974, was put to an end after the rightful intervention of Turkey on 20 July 1974, in accordance with the Treaty of Guarantee.


The Greek Cypriot administration has, since 1963, been trying to eradicate all traces of the Turkish-Muslim heritage of Cyprus. During the period 1963-1974, called as the “Dark era” by the Turkish Cypriots, mosques, shrines and other holy sites scattered all over the island were destroyed.


Especially on March 9, 1964 the mosque called Cami-i Cedid (New Mosque) of Paphos, situated in the very centre of the town, built in 1902 by the Turkish Cypriots living in Paphos district was first bundled and burned to death and later grounded by a bulldozer.


The area, once the mosque was piously standing, converted to a car park and the new enlarged avenue named as “9th March Avenue”, on the memory of the destruction day.


The Turkish cemetery near by is under very poor condition with almost all the graveyards destroyed and gravestones broken to the size of a palm. This graveyard probably will face the same fate.


Mr. Van der Werff, General Rapporteur of the Sub-Committee on the Architectural and Artistic Heritage of the Committee on Culture and Education of the Council of Europe, who visited the island of Cyprus with a delegation of experts to study the situation regarding cultural property both in the North and the South, reported in paragraph 5.3 of his report, which was published as a document of the Council of Europe on 2 July 1989 (AS/CULT/AA(41)1) that “We saw no churches destroyed, though St. George in Limnia (in the North) was listed as such.”


The report further states that “We noted with regret the complete destruction of the main mosque in Paphos (in the South).


The whole area has since been flattened to give way for a widened road junction and a car park. There is no memorial to the existence of the mosque. Below the road a Turkish bath complex remains hidden in rubble and vegetation awaiting restoration. The Turkish cemetery nearby St. Sophia Mouttalos mosque is dilapidated.”


More recently, Ms. Vlasta Stepova, a Council of Europe Rapporteur on Cultural Heritage, who visited both sides of the island in November 2000, also confirmed that there is no “vandalism of cultural monuments” in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.


The very famous historical mosques, called Ömeriye and Bayraktar, named after the heroes of 1570 conquest of the town of Nicosia, experienced severe attacks of Greeks during the “Dark era”.


Greek Cypriots tried to knock down these two mosques by installing time regulated bombs, tried to burn down by repeated arson attacks but they resisted to survive. Now these beautiful shrines are disintegrating and left to die due to total neglect as the others.

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