A Byzantine flag found hanging from the Tuzla Mosque in the city of Limassol, Cyprus, has caused outrage in Turkish media with politicians expressing their anger.
The Vice President of Turkey, Fuat Oktay, posted on Twitter “The provocation with the Byzantine flag hung on the Tuzla Mosque in Larnaca…” and “The Greek administration should stop encouraging the anti-Turkish and Islamic efforts that have been tried to be resurrected by some dark circles in the south of the island and should immediately implement the measures to prevent this diseased mentality.”
2️⃣Rum yönetimi adanın güneyinde son dönemde bir takım karanlık odaklar tarafından diriltilmeye çalışılan Türk ve İslam karşıtlığını cesaretlendirmeye son vermeli ve bu hastalıklı zihniyetin önüne geçecek önlemleri süratle uygulamaya koymalıdır.
— Fuat Oktay (@fuatoktay) June 7, 2020
Sefa Karahasan from Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet, said it was a provocative attack.
“The provocative attacks on mosques in Southern Cyprus continue. By throwing a Molotov cocktail in the courtyard of the Köprülü Mosque in Limassol and writing anti-immigrant writings on its walls, this time the Byzantine flag was hung on the wall of the Tuzlu Mosque in Larnaca.”
This is the same mosque that only days ago was petrol bombed and had graffiti written on its outer walls just days after Turkey allowed Islamic readings to be read in Hagia Sophia.
After the petrol bomb attack, religious leaders of the five main faith communities of Cyprus, the Greek Orthodox, Muslims, Armenian Orthodox, Maronites and Latin Catholics, who form the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden, released a joint statement condemning the attack, as reported by Greek City Times.
“We categorically condemn any and all acts of vandalisation and disrespect done to sacred places of worship. We are horrified to see such acts of violence and expression of Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination,” the joint statement said.
The Mayor of Limassol, Nikos Nikolaidis, also condemned the vandalism committed by the unknown assailants. Speaking on ANT1‘s “Mera Mesimeri” show, he noted that certainly any phenomena that promote xenophobia and racism are foreign to Cyprus, as they are a hospitable society.
Speaking outside the mosque, the mayor of Limassol stressed that they want to do everything possible to prevent these xenophobic actions in the future, no matter where they come from, as they pose a risk to social cohesion.