A group of far-right activists attacked and defaced a mosque in Limassol, Greek Cyprus, drawing a cross, and writing 'death to all Turks' on its walls.
As Greece observed its 200th anniversary of national independence on Thursday, a far-right Greek group attacked a mosque in the Greek Cyprus city of Limassol. The attackers drew a cross and wrote "death to all Turks" on the mosque’s walls.
The assailants carried banners which carried the date 1821, the year when Greece became independent and the rule of the former Ottoman Empire officially ended in the country.
The Turkish government condemned the attack, describing it as a provocation at a time "when efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus issue have intensified".
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said that such actions "will not help establish trust between two communities (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots)."
The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar urged the Greek administration to take a strict action against the perpetrators.
“While this incident reveals the Greek mentality once again, it should be reminded that hundreds of our mosques were attacked and destroyed during the 1963-1974 period,” President Tatar said in a statement.
The attack has had a negative effect on the upcoming 5+1 meeting led by the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, on the Cyprus issue.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also described the attack as provocation, saying Greeks have been doing it for a long time.
Targeting other mosques
The incident in Limassol is not the first attack on mosques on Greek soil.
In 2013, the historical mosque in the Denya region of Southern Cyprus was set on fire. It took a year for the mosque's restoration work to be completed.
However, the same mosque was set on fire again in 2016 by unidentified persons.
On the other hand, several Ottoman-era mosques in Greece continue to be sealed. Fethiye Mosque, which was constructed in 1458 in Athens, was converted into a school soon after Greece became independent in 1821.
The mosque was also turned into a prison at one time and then converted into a military camp on another occasion.
Similarly, another mosque named Dizdar Mustafa Aga was converted into various things - from a prison, a military camp and a warehouse, too.
In 1923, after its restoration, the mosque was used as the National Museum of Decorative Arts.