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3,Christianity in Peril in Turkish Cyprus

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/christianity_in_peril_in_turkish_cyprus.html June 30, 2013 Christianity in Peril in Turkish Cyprus By Michael Curtis
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2013

      June 30, 2013
      Christianity in Peril in Turkish Cyprus
      By Michael Curtis

      Violence against Christians has become all too frequent in recent years,
      with attacks on them in a wide variety of countries in Africa, Asia, and
      the Middle East. Repression and intolerance have been displayed against
      the Christian community in Nigeria; against the Coptic Christians in
      Alexandria, Egypt ; by bombing in a chapel in Sulu, Philippines; by bomb
      arracks against Assyrian Christians in Iraq; by discrimination against
      them in the Islamic Republic of Iraq; by prosecution under the blasphemy
      laws in Pakistan and elsewhere.

      It was the interruption and disruption by force of the celebration of
      Christian Mass in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada in
      northern Cyprus that led the European Parliament in a resolution on
      January 19, 2011 to comment on the situation of Christians in the
      context of freedom of religion. Since the “Arab Spring,” thousands of
      Christians have fled the countries of the Middle East except Israel.
      Christian communities have existed for two thousand years in the Middle
      East, though they are now declining as a result of low birth rates and
      emigration caused by discrimination and persecution in most of the Arab
      and Muslim countries in the area. The case of northern Cyprus is a
      recent example of that discrimination and intolerance towards a
      Christian community.

      The disruption of the Christian liturgy in the two villages was, as
      admitted by the World Council of Churches at the time, a flagrant
      violation of fundamental freedoms and human rights, the freedom of
      religion and belief, as guaranteed in Article 18 of the Universal
      Declaration of Human Rights and in other international declarations,
      including the 1981 United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all
      Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief.

      The area of Cyprus had been ruled administratively as a protectorate by
      Britain from 1878 until August 1960, when it become an independent
      country. An international treaty guaranteed the territorial integrity
      and sovereignty of Cyprus. But political crises and violence between the
      Greek and Turkish communities continued. As a result, the U.N. Security
      Council set up in March 1964 the U.N. Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP),
      originally to prevent further fighting between the two communities. In
      the absence of a political solution of the Cyprus problem, the force,
      now consisting of 925 uniformed personnel, and 140 international and
      local staff, has remained in existence to supervise ceasefire lines,
      maintain a buffer zone between the two sides, and undertake humanitarian

      Despite the presence of UNFICYP in 1974, the Turkish army invaded the
      island, ostensibly to restore “constitutional order,” after the Greek
      military had attempted a coup to unite Cyprus with Greece. Though there
      was a de facto ceasefire in August 1974, the Turkish aggression
      remained. The Turks never withdrew and occupied about a third of the
      island. In November 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was
      established under the leadership of Rauf Denktash, who remained
      president until 2005. It had a population of 180,000, of whom about
      100,000 came as colonialists from Anatolia, the Turkish mainland. The
      U.N. condemned the Republic as “legally invalid” and called on states
      not to recognize it. None has done so except Turkey. The town of Nicosia
      is still divided, with a “Green Line,” into two parts, each being the
      capital of one of the two regimes. It is the only divided capital in the

      With the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the
      200,000 Greek Christian Cypriots in the north escaped or were deported
      to the south. The village of Rizokarpaso, where the Christian Mass was
      prevented, once had a population of 3,000; now it has few Christians.
      The Turkish Republic has epitomized qualities of ethnic cleansing,
      disproportionate use of force, vandalism, religious intolerance,
      repression, and persecution. The Christian community in the north has
      dwindled to about 450.

      Restrictions have been put on Christian practices, as has access to
      religious sites and places of worship. In spite of international calls
      for the Turks to stop desecrating and destroying Christian properties,
      demolitions of churches have occurred, including in May 2011 the
      200-year-old one in the village of Vokolida. In all, at least 530
      churches have been damaged, vandalized, or destroyed. Some have been
      converted to military storage facilities, stables, casinos, or
      nightclubs; 78 have been transformed into mosques.

      The Orthodox Church has been refused permission to restore Christian
      monuments. One calculation estimates that 60,000 relics, icons, and
      mosaics from ancient Byzantine have been stolen. Some were found in the
      Getty Museum in Malibu before a U.S. court ruled that they belonged to
      the Christian Church. Only since 2003 have the Greek Christians been
      allowed to cross the border into the north and see the destruction of
      their heritage.

      One wonders if Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan and the leaders of the
      Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by their intolerant persecution of
      the Greek Christians are pursuing a policy of revenge. After all, it was
      from the town of Seleucia, on the Tigris, later burned by the Roman
      military, that Paul sailed to Cyprus on his first journey to convert the
      population to Christianity (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 13), and it
      was from Cyprus that the early Christians set out to proselytize the
      Greeks of Antioch.
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