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Muslim Places of Worship in Cyprus

  • The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has consistently undertaken systematic efforts for the protection of all places of worship, as well as other monuments and cultural sites on the island, including the Muslim monuments, since the Turkish Cypriot community constitutes an inseparable part of the Cyprus population. As a member of the European Union where multiculturalism, religious tolerance and respect constitute fundamental principles, the Cyprus Government has and will continue to show the proper respect towards the Muslim places of worship and to facilitate in every way possible the ritual services of the Turkish Cypriots and other Muslims in Cyprus.
  • Due to the 1974 forcible division of Cyprus and the Turkish military occupation of its northern part, the Government has not been able to provide protection to Muslim places of worship throughout the island. However, a significant number of mosques in the government controlled area, which were left unattended, have been placed, since 1974 under the protection of the Government. Therefore, the Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service, under the auspices of the Minister of Interior has assumed responsibility for the maintenance of these mosques, which number 101 and undertakes restoration works where necessary.
  • Following a decision of the Council of Ministers, the Government of Cyprus during the period 1989-1990 proceeded with general restoration works of 83 mosques all over the government controlled area. These projects, which cost €206,120, were completed in 1990 and since then, a considerable amount of money has been provided for the cleaning and preservation of mosques, cemeteries and other Muslim monuments. The following table for the years 2000-2006 is indicative of the consistent interest for the preservation of the Muslim places of worship on behalf of the Cyprus Government:

Expenses provided by the Turkish Cypriot Properties Management Service of the Cyprus Government for the restoration and maintenance of Muslim places of worship since 2000
District2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
Estimation
2007
Nicosia3,4332,56517,17332,585151,803158,87498,767141,819
Limassol9,7866,34914,04016,023131,000139,131124,693221,754
Larnaca48,37335,57781,83323,811124,222126,332121,431206,391
Paphos41,45730,4934,71934,946181,42461,46262,629164,486
Total103,02075,011117,681107,307587,976485,512407,255737,837

  • The Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Communications and Works of the Republic of Cyprus, which is the competent authority for any works including antiquities curried out in the entire territory of the Republic of Cyprus, is responsible for the declaration of Muslim monuments situated in the area under the control of the Cyprus Government as Ancient Monuments. These monuments are separated into two categories: (a) the fist deals with Ottoman baths, Turkish coffee shops, schools etc and (b) the second category deals strictly with mosques declared Ancient Monuments, which today number 17 throughout the government controlled areas.
  • These 17 monuments today are in an excellent condition due to an elaborate scientific restoration program conducted in 1995 on behalf of the Department of Antiquities. Within the framework of this program, which is expected to be completed in 2010 all 17 mosques will be fully restored and preserved. The current situation of the 17 Ancient Monuments is as follows:

Nicosia District
  1. Nicosia, Bairaktar mosque: Restored and being used for the religious needs of the Turkish-Cypriots.
  2. Nicosia, Taht-el-Kaleh mosque: Restored.
  3. Nicosia, Omerie mosque: Being used for the religious needs of the Muslims in Nicosia. It needs restoration work which cannot be done without the temporary relocaton of the faithful.
  4. Nicosia, Arablar mosque or Church of Stavros tou Missiricou. Restored partially. A project of further conservation work is planned for 2007.

Larnaka District
  1. Larnaka, Zouhouri mosque: Being restored.
  2. Larnaka, Tousla mosque: Restored.
  3. Larnaka, Kebir mosque: The restoration of its minaret will be completed in 2007 and its restoration will continue as from 2008.
  4. Klavdia, mosque (church of St. Catherine): Restored.
  5. Dromolaxia, Hala Sultan mosque: Restored through a project of UNDP and used for the religious needs of the muslims.

Limassol District
  1. Limassol, Kebir mosque: Restored and used by muslims.
  2. Limassol, Ali-Dede mausoleum: Restored.
  3. Episkopi, mosque (church of St. George): Restored.

Paphos District
  1. Paphos, mosque at “Mouttallos” (church of St. Sofia): Being restored.
  2. Timi, mosque (church of St. Sofia): Restored.
  3. Chrysohou, mosque (church of St. Nicholas): Restored.
  4. Polis Chrysohous, mosque (church of St. Andronicos): Restored.
  5. Pelathousa, mosque (church of St. Catherine): Restored.

  • The annual expenses for the conservation of the above listed Muslim monuments in the government controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus by the Department of Antiquities for the years 1975-1999 is estimated to €294,620, while for the period between 2000-2007 is as follows:

Expenses provided by the Department of Antiquities for the conservation of Muslim places of worship declared Ancient Monuments since 2000
YearAnnual Expenses
2000€72,120
2001€23,180
2002€40,350
2003€46,355
2004€36,910
2005€145,940
2006€130,280
2007€347,680

  • The Government of Cyprus is well aware of the significance of these mosques for the Muslim world in general and fully respects the religious rights of the Muslim population in Cyprus. As evident from above, four of these mosques declared Ancient Monuments are normally open to the public for the performance of religious duties, while others are open to public visits.
  • It is worth mentioning that one of the most important holy sites for the Islamic world in general, the mosque of Umm Haram in Larnaca, was completely renovated and restored within the framework of a bicommunal programme of the United Nations Development Programme. Today, this mosque is open for services on a permanent basis. The said mosque has been declared by the Department of Antiquities an Ancient Monument, in the B Listing in the district of Larnaca.




June 2007







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