A protest against the forthcoming visit by Turkish President Erdogan was held in front of the TRNC Assembly building and the Turkish embassy in North Nicosia.
President Erdogan is scheduled to visit North Cyprus on 10 July. The Turkish Cypriot teachers’ union KTOS organised the protest, saying that instead of spending money on huge mosques, direct the funding to schools and hospitals.
Countering the demonstration were members of the TMT Fighters’ Association, the Turkish Armed Forces Veteran’s Association and the Nationalist Democracy Party (MDP) who were gathered in front of the Turkish embassy.
Members of the KTOS executive were holding placards saying “First schools and hospitals and then mosques which are for political purposes”.
Issuing a written statement during the protest, KTOS, inter alia, condemned Erdogan’s forthcoming visit to the TRNC and the inauguration ceremony for the Hala Sultan mosque which is scheduled to take place in the Nicosia suburb of Haspolat.
Underlining the anti-democratic conditions in Turkey that became more visible right after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Erdogan came to power, KTOS said in the statement that this dark period in Turkey is extremely worrying for all people living in the northern part of the island.
“The 33 million dollar mosque which was constructed in the northern part of our island, within the framework of Erdogan’s projects to build mosques in every neighbourhood with the aim of raising ‘religious and vindictive generations’ is the best example which proves the pressure put on the Turkish Cypriot community to adopt Sunni Islam (…)”, the statement said, underlying the lack of schools and infrastructure in the Turkish Cypriot community. “Our priority is not spreading Sunni Islam but to grow and educate our children with a scientific, secular, democratic way and with conscience. Instead of spending vast amounts of money for religious purposes and for building mosques, it is necessary and better to build more schools and hospitals that will contribute to the prosperity of the people. (…). The 33 million dollars which were spend for the construction of this mosque, could be used for building not one but 33 schools and also not one but 3 hospitals like Famagusta Hospital. If inauguration ceremonies are going to take place in this country, it must be schools that should be inaugurated, hospitals and new roads”.
“We are aware of the reactionary and unprogressive actions which are carried out by the AKP in the northern part of the island. We will continue our struggle in all fields against the efforts exerted to control and administrate this community”, the statement further said.
The paper adds that the United Cyprus Party and several other trade unions in North Cyprus supported KTOS’ protest, which ended with no incidents.