Nicosia has strongly condemned the vandalising of a mosque in Episkopi, Limassol, during a national holiday to celebrate Greek independence, calling it “unacceptable and mindless”.
In a written statement, government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos “strongly and unreservedly condemned the unacceptable actions of some brainless people who under the pretext of so-called patriotism insult religious places of worship”.
The mosque in Episkopi was vandalised with graffiti on Thursday, 25 March, while bicentennial celebrations were carried out on the island marking the Greek revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
Slogans written with blue paint on exterior walls and steps of the mosque included “Hellas” (Greece), “Turks, you will die,” Christianity symbols, and references to 1821, the start of the Greek War of Independence.
Koushos said that the sacrilegious act “is an insult to the very concept of patriotism taught to us by our glorious heroes, who honoured and protected the patriotic principles”.
“Malicious acts such as these do not contribute in any way to the creation of the right climate to solve the Cyprus issue and reunify our country,” said Koushos.
Local official Lefkios Prodromou said that masked individuals carry out the attack under cover of darkness, with the latest being the third such incident in recent times.
“It is sad to see such acts carried out by stupid fools who only manage to embarrass Cyprus abroad,” Prodromou said.
A similar incident took place at another mosque in Limassol, while in 2016, vandals set alight a historical mosque in Denia, a Nicosia village situated in the buffer zone. The same mosque was targeted back in 2013.
The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, an interfaith religious group, called it “shameful.”
Limassol-born Eleni Theocharous, a former MEP and current president of the Solidarity Movement, posted two photos of the incident and mocked the perpetrators.
“Those who did this are not patriots…” Theocharous wrote.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar was quick to jump in and make the most of the incident arguing that this incident once again demonstrated the “Greek Cypriot mentality”.
Tatar also made references to an earlier period between 1963 and 1974, when “hundreds of our mosques were attacked and destroyed.”
Meanwhile, the Cyprus News Agency reported, police are looking into the incident after receiving an official complaint.
Countless mediation attempts have failed to heal the divide, with the United Nations poised to launch a new effort in Geneva next month.