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Religious leaders breach Cyprus divide for COVID19 prayers

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Christian and Muslim religious leaders across the island’s divide joined together on Friday in a rare show unity for prayers to overcome the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II leader of the Cyprus Orthodox Church and Turkish Cypriot Mufti Talip Atalay, along with Armenian and Maronite religious leaders joined prayers to fight the pandemic.

“They call on all other religious and faith community leaders in Cyprus and all sisters and brothers of faith to join them in prayer and action to fight this pandemic together,” said a statement by interfaith group Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process (RTCYPP)

“During this unprecedented period, the Religious Leaders of Cyprus call everyone to pray fervently, act compassionately and remain in solidarity with each other especially with the most vulnerable among us,” it added

They also called on their faithful to “pay very serious attention” to the strict social distancing measures enforced on both sides of the UN-patrolled ceasefire line.

“The Religious Leaders of Cyprus assure everyone that they will continue to pray during this difficult time.”

Both the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriot north of the island have closed schools and shut down clubs, bars, restaurants, prohibited indoor leisure activities and banned all competitive sports.

Following the coronavirus outbreak on March 9, checkpoints along the 180-kilometre ceasefire between the two sides shut are effectively sealing shuttered.

There have been 67 cases of coronavirus reported in the Cyprus Republic and 33 in the north.