RTCYPP News 11.6.19

Feast of Apostolos Barnabas

On the occasion of the Feast of St. Barnabas, the founding Apostle and patron saint of the Church of Cyprus, evening prayer service was held on June 10, over the Tomb of the Apostle in open air. The evening vespers were led by the Abbot of Apostolos Barnabas Monastery and Cathedral, the Very Reverend Father Ioannis Ioannou accompanied by the representative Bishop from the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa with around 200 faithful and the Director of the Office of RTCYPP under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden.

Special guest Imam Shakir Alemdar of Hala Sultan Tekke was warmly welcomed by Father Ioannis, the clerical order and worshippers. Imam Shakir presented a painting of Hala Sultan to Father Ioannis and expressed his best wishes and that of the Mufti to all.

I bring you greetings of brotherhood and love from our most significant Mosque to your most significant Church in Cyprus”, said Imam Shakir.“I pray here everytime I pass by. Saint Barnabas is respected and loved by Muslims too.”

We are grateful for the grace of God to allow us to be here together to worship Him, pray together with our brother from the Patriarchate of Alexandria and venerate our Apostle.” said Father Ioannis. “We welcome our brother from Hala Sultan and thank him for this presence and support. We pray St Barnabas will end the suffering of our island and unite us once again so that we can live together in dignity, with peace and love -Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins alike.“

Holy liturgy is scheduled to take place at the Main Cathedral in the morning of June 11.

Hundreds of pilgrims visit the Monastery of Apostolos Barnabas each year for the Feast of the Apostle, which is celebrated with Evening Vespers on June 10th and a Holy Liturgy on June 11 both at the Main Cathedral. Since 2014, there is monthly worship at the chapel over the Tomb of St Barnabas and 6 times a year at the Main Cathedral, otherwise used as an icon museum without the permission and consent of the Church of Cyprus.

RTCYPP News 7.6.19

15th Special Pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke
Eid al-Fitr / Ramazan Bayram 2019

On June 6, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr – Ramazan Bayram, the Mufti of Cyprus led a special prayer service for 600 pilgrims of Turkish origin who cannot otherwise visit and pray Hala Sultan Tekke in Larnaca.

This pilgrimage is one the the three special pilgrimages to Hala Sultan Tekke taking place annually on the occasion of Ramazan Bayram, Qurban Bayram and Mevlid (Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Mawlid al-Nabi). This is a result of an unprecedented agreement from 2014 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, reached within the framework of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process under the Auspices of the Embassy of Sweden(RTCYPP).

“Religious Leaders advocating together the right to worship and  free access to places of worship for everyone as a basic human right is a strong foundation for confidence building and reconciliation in Cyprus which my governemt is committed to support.”  said H.E the Ambassador of Sweden, Anna Olsson Vrang.

The joint message and heartfelt wishes of all the religious leaders of Cyprus for a joyous and peaceful Eid was shared publicly and warmly received.

“We are encouraged and very grateful for the support of H.B. Archbishop Chrysostomos II for the special pilgrimages. The joint efforts of all the religious leaders of Cyprus for religious freedom is a clear sign of hope which should be nurtured and supported by everyone.” said Salpy Eskidjian, Executive Director of the Office of RTCYPP.

Office of RTCYPP expressed special appreciation also for the support of H.E Mr Christodoulides, the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus  as well as the Cyprus police, UNFICYP, UN Police and everyone involved for all they did to make the pilgrimage a success.

Hala Sultan Tekke was closed off for tourists and other faithful to accommodate the special pilgrimage that is facilitated by UNFICYP in coordination with the Office of RTCYPP.

RTCYPP News 4.6.19

Joint Greeting from the Christian Religious Leaders of Cyprus for Eid al-Fitr/Ramazan Bayram
4 June 2019

On the occasion of the feast of Eid al-Fitr, the Christian Religious Leaders Of Cyprus – H.B Archbishop Chrysostomos II of the Greek Orthodox Church, H.E. Archbishop Khoren of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Soueif Of the Maronite Church and the Latin Patriarchal Vicar Rev. Father Kraj – issued a joint message address to the Mufti of Cyprus, Dr Talip Atalay and all Muslim faithful of and in Cyprus, wishing them a blessed Eid - “Ramazan Bayram”.

“We pray that Ramadan was spiritually uplifting for all. We especially pray for the most vulnerable among us. May God’s bright light shed on the path of enlightenment, grant forgiveness, blessings of peace, and grace upon all faithful. Eid Mubarak!”

You can find further details on RTCYPP website and social media channels. (http://www.religioustrack.com/2019/06/07/joint-greeting-for-eid-al-fitr-4-6-19/)

Translation to Turkish:

Kıbrıs’taki Hristiyan Din Liderlerinin Ramazan Bayramı Mesajı 4 Haziran 2019

Ramazan Bayramı dolayısıyla bizler, Kıbrıs’taki Hristiyan Din Liderleri olarak, kardeşimiz Kıbrıs Müftüsü’ne, imamlara, Kıbrıs’taki ve tüm inanan Müslümanlara mübarek Ramazan Bayramı dileriz.

Ramazan’ın herkes için ruhu yüceltici olması için dua ediyoruz. Özellikle aramızda en savunmasız durumda olanlar için dua ediyoruz.

Tanrı’nın aydınlık ışığı tüm inananların yolunu aydınlatsın, affedilme, barış ve huzur tüm inananlarla olsun.

Ramazan Bayramınız kutlu olsun!

Joint Greeting for Eid al-Fitr 4.6.19

Joint Greeting from the Christian Religious Leaders of Cyprus for Eid al-Fitr/Ramazan Bayram
4 June 2019

On the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, we, the Christian Religious Leaders of Cyprus wish our brother, the Mufti of Cyprus, the clerical order of Imams and all Muslim faithful of and in Cyprus a blessed Ramazan Bayram/Eid al-Fitr!

We pray that Ramadan was spiritually uplifting for all. We especially pray for the most vulnerable among us. May God’s bright light shed on the path of enlightenment, grant forgiveness, blessings of peace, and grace upon all faithful.

Eid Mubarak!

H.B. Chrysostomos II
Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus

H.E. Yousef Soueif
Archbishop of the Maronite Church of Cyprus

H.E. Khoren Doghramadjian
Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church of Cyprus

Rev. Father Jerzy Kraj Latin Patriarchal Vicar

RTCYPP News 27.5.19

Regional Conference on Contemporary Issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), Yerevan  

Director of the Office of the RTCYPP was one of the International experts invited to address the 2019 Regional Conference on Contemporary Issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) held by The Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Yerevan on May 24. 

The conference provided a platform for key stakeholders from the Caucasus to discuss the situation and developments of FoRB from different perspectives. Insightful discussions were held during the conference within the sessions on Global Challenges in the field of FoRB, Interreligious dialogue as a tool for conflict transformation, issues of Education and conflicting rights. 

The Conference was attended by international experts on FoRB from the UN and the OSCE, representatives of international organizations, members of the diplomatic corps, religious leaders and groups, government representatives and civil society members from both countries. 

Prime Minister of Armenia was present at the opening and addressed the conference alongside the Head of the UN Representation, the Dutch Ambassador and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom Of Religion or Belief (via video link). 
The conference was supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Armenia and Georgia.


RTCYPP News 9.5.19

Iftar at Hala Sultan Tekke

On the evening of 8 May, participants from the RTCYPP Faith for Rights Network and RTCYPP Language Classes joined the Office of RTCYPP for a visit to Hala Sultan Tekke to participate in an Iftar (the meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan) and express best wishes for a peaceful and blessed Ramadan which started a few days ago.

The fast, lasting from dawn to sunset, was broken with dates and juice when the sun set over the beautiful Salt Lake. The Imam of Hala Sultan Tekke warmly welcomed all present and everyone shared a delicious meal together. Empathy for the less fortunate, generosity and charity are some of the values encouraged during the Ramadan period. It is customary for mosques to enact this by providing food and a social space every night after sunset.

Getting to know one another , sharing the respective traditions with each other are part of the activities supported by the religious leaders of Cyprus and coordinated by the Office of RTCYPP in order to nurture respect and build trust among the different faith communities in the island.

“We are grateful for the welcome at Hala Sultan Tekke and to everyone in the visiting group for their participation as well as the deep respect shown for each other.” said Salpy Eskidjian, director of the Office of RTCYPP. “Learning, understanding and respecting one another’s traditions is a fundamental element for peaceful coexistence and reconciliation.”

The evening was documented by a Canadian film crew exploring the role of religion among other aspects of Cypriot society.

#KnowYourNeighbour #RespectOneAnother #Faith4Rights

RTCYPP News 2.5.19

Statement on #Faith4Rights at Global Summit on Religion, Peace and Security

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet addressed the role of religious leaders and communities in her statement on Faith for Rights at the Global Summit on Religion, Peace and Security on 29 April, 2019.

“The ‘Faith for Rights’ framework includes a commitment not to tolerate exclusionary interpretations, which instrumentalize religions, beliefs or their followers for electoral purposes or political gains… The 18 commitments [of the Faith for Rights initiativehave been translated into Greek and Turkish in the context of the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Process, to be used in human rights education projects across the island.”

Read the full statement here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24531&LangID=E

Or watch the video via this link: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FaithForRights.aspx

RTCYPP News 21.4.19

Mufti of Cyprus , Professor Dr Atalay strongly condemns the terror attacks in Sri Lanka targeted at Christians on Easter Sunday

Subject​: Condemnation Message regarding terror attacks against churches and hotels in Sri Lanka (translated from Turkish)

On my behalf and my community, I strongly condemn terror acts in Sri Lanka on Sunday that targeted Christians in the churches performing their worship and people in the hotels, resulting in the death of more than 200 people and the injury of hundreds of others. These attacks deeply saddened us.

Regardless of its religion, language, race, geography, those who commit these assassinations are the murderers of the whole humanity according to our belief that equates the massacre of an innocent with the massacre of whole world. It is crystal clear that terror acts and the terrorists -we just witnessed last month in New Zealand and today in Sri Lanka, and in the past with many other painful examples- serve to the same dirty goals in themselves although they have different sides, colours in appearance. These murderers aim to destroy trust and hope that are core needs and natural human traits. To achieve this goal, they intend out of the blue the lives of innocent people and their places of worship, which are basically the safest places. With the violence they use, they are attempting to dominate the world with fear, hate and hopeless.

It is of utmost importance for the future of the humanity to eradicate the resources by which these terrorists are fed. Although their beliefs, nations and countries are different from each other, their common traits are basically the same. For that purpose, all officials in all countries of the world should take the same side against similar violence acts and hate speech regardless of the target audience and considering the responsibility of being an individual. In the name of the humanity, it is an urgent matter that following the New Zealand massacre common solidarity, that increases our hopes and heals the wounds in the hearts to a certain extent, further expands and takes root as a universal reflex against similar terror acts in all corners of the world by going beyond a verbal position that merely condemns terror and its supporters. If we don’t stand against terror and approaches that support it, if we don’t fight against them, we would have a share in the massacre and in the suffering of each innocent person. If we opt for remaining silent, we would be a part of this bigger sin and we would therefore become accountable vis-à-vis God.

I once again condemn this nefarious terror incident that resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of innocent people in Sri Lanka, and offer condolence to the relatives of those who lost their lives during the attack as well as to all Sri Lanka people on my behalf and my community, and wish quick recovery for those who were injured.

Professor Dr Talip Atalay
Mufti of Cyprus

International Day for Monuments and Sites 2019

International Day for Monuments and Sites 2019

Right to Access and Enjoy Cultural including Religious Heritage is a Human Right

On April 18 the world marks the International Day for Monuments and Sites declared by UNESCO in 1983.  Since then, 18 April has been a day to celebrate and promote cultural heritage, and an opportunity to raise awareness about its diversity, its relevance, how vulnerable it can be and what the needs and benefits of its conservation are.

In a place where religion has played a major part in shaping culture for centuries, religious and cultural heritage cannot be isolated from one another. This is especially true for religious monuments and sites.  In Cyprus, there are thousands of religious monuments and sites of different faith traditions, in particular Christian and Muslim, dating back centuries, representing a unique and significant part of Cyprus’ identity.  Many of these monuments and sites are sadly abandoned, destroyed, transformed locked up or inaccessible. Victims of the unresolved Cyprus conflict, they continue  to cause deep pain and mistrust between the  different communities of the island. Meanwhile, courageous mutual efforts of civil society and religious communities to dialogue and work together to clean, restore and allow free access for prayer and worship, has transformative powers on the path towards reconciliation.

Emphasizing the link between cultural heritage, peacebuilding and reconciliation, Office of RTCYPP highlights the significance of “the right to access and enjoy cultural heritage as a human right“: a right which “includes the right of individuals and groups, inter alia, to know, understand, enter, visit, make use of, maintain, exchange and develop cultural heritage, as well as to benefit from the cultural heritage of others.” (Special Rapporteur on Cultural Heritage, 2017)

Respecting religious sites and monuments, in particular those considered sacred by a different community than one’s own, is recognizing each other’s values and identities. Addressing the state of and access to religious monuments and sites is not merely about restoring stones; it is about restoring the human soul.  It is about allowing social interaction, sharing and acknowledging the past, different histories and memories, and caring for each other also through cherishing each other’s religious heritage. On an island characterized by a web of identities, stretching beyond two ethnic communities, understanding and respecting differences is fundamental for peaceful coexistence.

#InternationalDayofMonumentsandSites2019 #IDMS2019 #Faith4Rights #UNESCO