Press Announcement 4.7.16

Special Pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke on the Occasion of Eid Al Fitr – Ramazan Bayram

On the occasion of Eid Al Fitr – Ramazan Bayram, the Mufti of Cyprus will be leading a special prayer service on 7 July 2016, for 1000 pilgrims of Turkish origin who reside in the northern part of Cyprus and cannot otherwise visit and pray at Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca.

The special pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke for Turkish origin persons is a result of an unprecedented agreement between the religious leaders of Cyprus, namely H.B. Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus and the Mufti of Cyprus H.E Dr Talip Atalay. The agreement, also supported by the political leaders of Cyprus, was reached in 2014 within the framework of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP).

H.B Archbishop Chrysostom’s II will be represented by Archimandrite Rev Ioannis Ioannou, abbot of Apostolos Barnabas Monastery, who will bring the greetings of the Archbishop to the Mufti and the Muslim faithful on the occasion of Ramazan Bayram- Eid Al Fitr. The Maronite, Armenian and Latin religious leaders will also be sending their representatives. H.E Mr. Klas Gierow, Ambassador of Sweden will be joining the religious leaders together with other ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic community in Cyprus.

“We hail this agreement between the religious leaders, the gesture of Archbishop Chrysostomos II and the efforts of the religious leaders for human rights and peace as a clear sign of hope. Respecting the right to worship and access to places of worship for everyone as a basic human right is a strong foundation for confidence building, peace and reconciliation in Cyprus, that should be nurtured, protected and advocated.” Said Salpy Eskidjian, the main facilitator of this agreement and the Executive Coordinator of the Office of RTCYPP. “Our heartfelt wishes for a joyous and peaceful Eid to all Muslim faithful and special thanks to all stakeholders and persons involved without whom we could not achieve this pilgrimage.”

Hala Sultan Tekke will be closed on July 7th until 16:30 for tourists and other faithful to accommodate the special pilgrimage that is facilitated by UNFICYP in coordination with the Office of RTCYPP.

Note to Editors:
There will be press conference at 14:15 in the main hall at Hala Sultan Tekke. All interested media should send their full names, ID numbers and vehicle registration numbers to the Office of RTCYPP to the latest by 5th July at noon. Only registered media with valid IDs will be permitted to cover the event.
Since 2014 as a result of the Religious Track and with permission from H.E. Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides RoC Minister of Foreign Affairs special pilgrimages have been taking place regularly for the first time in Cyprus on the occasions of Eid Al Fitr, Eid Ul Adha and Mawlid, organized and led by Mufti Talip Atalay, facilitated by the Office of RTCYPP and UNFICYP.

Hala Sultan Tekke is acknowledged and respected as a place of worship. It is open daily from 8:30 – 19:30 only in the summers and 8:30 – 17:00 only in the winters for prayer and worship where Turkish Cypriots and other Muslim faithful are free to practice their faith. Imam Shakir Alemdar, appointed by the Mufti of Cyprus, is responsible for the worship life of the Tekke as well as all other needs of the Muslim faithful.

The Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden (RTCYPP) is an unprecedented peacebuilding effort of the religious leaders of Cyprus committed to work jointly for human rights, peace and reconciliation, initiated and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden.

The Office of RTCYPP is established to encourage, facilitate and serve the religious leaders’ dialogue and efforts for religious freedom and peace in Cyprus and to contribute positively and constructively to the Cyprus peace talks. The Office is based at the Home for Cooperation in the UN controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.
Since 2011, the religious leaders of Cyprus have agreed to focus on four pillars: To get to know and build trust among the religious leaders and respective faith communities; To promote confidence-building measures; To advocate for the right to free access and worship at churches, mosques and monasteries; To ensure the protection of all religious monuments in Cyprus.

Posted in Press Releases.