Karpasia Bishop Christoforos said the character of the revered Apostolos Andreas Monastery in the Turkish-occupied north should not be altered or partly turned into a Mosque.
“Just as we respect the Hala Sultan mosque in Larnaca and we do not want its character as a place of prayer, nor the surrounding area, to become something other than it is, a Muslim mosque, we would like the same for the monastery,” the bishop told CNA.
Turkish Cypriot media said two rooms at the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas were turned into a place of prayer, a small mosque (mescit).
He said it concerns rooms restored in the first phase of the restoration works to be used by street vendors in the building northwest of the monastery, near the large parking area.
The street vendors refused to be moved there, and “it seems that in those rooms they want to place carpets for the prayers of the Muslims who visit the monastery”.
The rooms were built as guest houses for the monastery’s visitors.
Bishop Christoforos is concerned this could be a move to test their reaction, as “it was being said that they would build a normal mosque” for years.
Although the EVKAF Muslim administration’s director said “the Church has no complaint” about this move, the bishop revealed they were not consulted.
The bishop said that the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, which has an ecclesiastical, monastic pilgrimage character, should not change.
“Both sides should show respect for the religious sites, as this helps us coexist if we preserve them in the form that they have existed for many centuries.”
He said both sides should demonstrate respect in matters of religion to avoid misunderstandings or tensions and continue to coexist, looking forward to resolving the Cyprus problem.
The bishop said that he would be visiting the monastery.
He noted that Rizokarpaso has a large mosque where Muslims can pray if they wish.
Before the Turkish invasion and nowadays, many Muslims, not only from Cyprus but also from abroad, visit the monastery and give offerings.
“Apostolos Andreas and the Hala Sultan are religious monuments; therefore, their character should not be altered.”
Since the Turkish invasion, many Christian Orthodox religious sites have been destroyed or altered.