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

RTCYPP News 2.4.19

OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting 1-2 April 2019, Vienna

The Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) of the OSCE assesses the progress made by participating states in implementing its commitments to combat all forms of discrimination, including racism, xenophobia, hate crimes, anti-semitism, intolerance against Christians, Muslims and members of other religions or belief communities while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience , religion or belief and fostering mutual respect and understanding. Special attention was paid to the different impact such intolerance has on women.

Good practices that show how different actors can prevent and respond to intolerance were presented including the experiences from the RTCYPP, introduced by Salpy Eskidjian Weiderud. Many country representatives including Cyprus, Turkey, Sweden and Finland as well as Slovakia in their respective responses expressed appreciation and praised the work of RTCYPP. The meeting was organized by ODIHR /OSCE under the Slovak Chairmanship.