| Politics |Bağımsız



Are you paying attention, lately, essential tasks are being neglected in our country, and unnecessary matters are being dealt with instead…

Unnecessary but contentious issues…

They say, “The goat is worried about its life, while the butcher is concerned about the meat.” [Translator’s note: Turkish proverb meaning one man’s loss is another man’s gain] It perfectly fits the situation.

Opening a masjid [prayer room] in one of the buildings of the Apostolos Andreas Monastery is one of those unnecessary matters. It causes more harm than good…

Once again, those who express their views on this matter are being labelled as “enemies of religion,” “anti-Muslim,” or “unnecessary opposition.”

This has nothing to do with being anti-religion or any other enmity, nor does it relate to making unnecessary opposition…

Even if you are acting with extremely good intentions (which I doubt), sometimes your actions may have serious consequences.

The idea of having a masjid right next to the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, inside its premises, whether planned or done impulsively, is provocative and inciting towards the other side, the Greek Cypriots.

It is like pretending to carry out an act in innocence but driving the other side mad, causing a stir, and then smirking about it. Do we really need this?

Does it give us pleasure to provoke, incite, and agitate others?

Moreover, is it acceptable to do this in the name of religion and worship? “Can’t we reach an agreement?” some people ask. We could, but there is no such agreement. The particularly fanatic segment of the Greek Cypriot public, which is prone to misunderstandings, has already started to express their reactions.

One must never forget that every society has its sensitivities, and when those sensitivities are aggravated, terrible things can happen.

Throughout history, many incidents have arisen because of this, and they continue to occur. The word “incident” may sometimes fall short; it can lead to wars, civil wars, bloodshed, and loss of lives.

For instance, the burning of the Quran in some European countries recently is a significant provocation, a form of incitement, and an utter disregard for people’s sensitivities.

The sensitivities of societies should be taken into account, not ignored…

Saying, “There is a church there, so there should also be a masjid. What problem would it cause?” is too simplistic and does not consider the sensitivities.

What is that church or monastery there for? When and why was it built? What is its significance? Is it unimportant that it is sacred for another religion?

Ignoring all these and asserting that, “If one is there, then the other one should be there too”, unfortunately reflects the “tin god” attitude of those in power who have acted in recent years with the notion “I can do whatever I want and it will be fine.”

We haven’t forgotten how they caused so many fiascos, and bankrupted institutions, while confidently saying “I’ll do it, it will work”. And yet they can act as if nothing has happened. No matter what mistakes they make, they immediately attribute the issue to “hostility towards Turkey”.

This is the most convenient cover; after each wrong move, they try to get out of it by saying, “They don’t want or love Turkey, that’s why they are doing this.” They will always try to divert attention away from their own meddling.

It’s not about ‘to whom does it belong’, that place is cultural heritage, in fact it poses an opportunity for us.

They say Greek Cypriots who visit the area perform their religious rituals but what about the Turks? They claim it’s what the public is demanding… Come on, can you check out the excuse? Are there no mosques in the area?

Officials say that the masjid will not have azans [call to prayer] or hold religious ceremonies.

Then what? People will just pray there…

“So while the Greek Cypriots perform their rituals next door, our people will pray in the masjid,” they say.

I mean what, are we going to have a religious competition at the Apostolos Andreas Monastery? Are we jealous of the Greek Cypriots? What is this about? What are we trying to prove?

Do we need a masjid to pray?? Of course not. A friend of mine sent me a saying of the Prophet Muhammad. The prophet Muhammad says, “The Earth is a mosque. When the time for prayer comes, you can pray anywhere…”

So, it means it is not necessary to build a masjid at the Apostolos Andreas Monastery and pray there out of spite of Greek Cypriots and Christian tourists. You can pray anywhere.

I thank my friend Selçuk who sent me the saying of the Prophet Muhammad. This is how we need to explain these things. They would misinterpret our words; let’s remind them of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad…

Of course, you are free to build a masjid anywhere else you wish… but not in a place that will cause disputes…

By the way, let’s remind everyone that the mayor and the central government have a lot of work to do in that region, but they are not doing it, or they can’t do it.

In general, the Karpaz [Karpasia] region, especially Rizokarpaso, needs attention. Focus on the problems of the region, and free it from deprivation. The road to Apostolos Andreas, full of potholes is awful and terrible, and it is a source of embarrassment. It’s a road of shame…

Wouldn’t it be better if the central government and the Transport Ministry as well as the newly elected mayor, who have been unable to repair a road for years, focused their energy on such issues?

That’s difficult to do, right? It’s easy to deal with populist but provocative matters…

You want the Greek Cypriots to come and spend money in your supermarkets, shops, restaurants, and petrol stations, and you like it, but at the same time, you don’t want any rapprochement between the two communities.

“God forbid negotiations start, and the sides sit at the table! Oh, no! We’re fine like this. Let’s take their money but keep them as enemies. Let’s take their money, but let’s find something to hurt them, let’s remain enemies…”

This is the logic… It’s worth looking behind actions that may seem innocent and well-intentioned; you’ll surely find something…

What if the Greek Cypriots built a church or something similar inside the Hala Sultan Tekke or turned one of its rooms into such a thing? Would you like that? Of course not…

So, it means do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but as I said, the issue is not about empathy or lack thereof; the issue is that it smells like provocation…


Ali Baturay was born in Klavia (Alanici) village of Larnaca on 14 October 1968. He studied journalism. He holds a master’s degree focusing on “New Media and Changing Newspapers and Journalism in the Northern Part of Cyprus”. He worked for Halkın Sesi Newspaper between 1986-1995, for Yenidüzen Newspaper between 1995-1998 and for KIBRIS Newspaper for 22 years, between 1998-2020. He worked as news director, managing editor and editor-in-chief at KIBRIS Newspaper. In February 2020, he moved to digital newspaper Haber Kıbrıs as general editorial coordinator, where he also wrote daily columns and produced a programme on Haber Kıbrıs WEB TV. As of January 2023, he works as the editor-in-chief of digital news site Bağımsız.

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