ANKARA/LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Sunday condemned the hanging of a Byzantine flag over a mosque in Greek Cyprus.
"The Greek administration should stop encouraging anti-Turkish and anti-Islamic activities that are being fanned by some dark forces in the south of the island and should take measures to put an end to this diseased mentality," Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter.
Omer Celik, spokesman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, also slammed the move.
"We strongly condemn the hanging of a Byzantine flag on a mosque in Tuzla village in Southern Cyprus. The Greek administration should stop hostility toward Islam,” he said in a tweet.
"Those who promote Islamophobia will soon face the troubles caused by the fascists they protect.”
Recalling an arson attempt last week on a mosque in Greek Cyprus, TRNC President Mustafa Akinci urged the Greek Cypriot administration to not let this heinous act go unpunished.
"Obviously, there are people who hope to gain from provocation. After the arson attempt on the mosque in [the city of] Limassol, this action should not be underestimated, and the Greek administration should pursue the perpetrators,” he said in a statement.
"We strongly condemn the hanging of a Byzantine flag on the wall of the Tuzla mosque in Larnaca after a petrol bomb was thrown in the courtyard of the Koprulu Haci Ibrahim Aga Mosque in Limassol,” Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.
Kalin added that Islamophobia could not be tolerated.
Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter that the attack did not comply with humanity and conscience.
“Hanging the Byzantine flag on the Tuzla Mosque in Larnaca has hit us hard and everyone who defends freedom of belief,” Altun said, adding Turkey demanded an immediate end to the attacks against the country and Islam and punishment of the offenders.
Last week, the Koprulu Haci Ibrahim Aga Mosque in Limassol was attacked by petrol bombs by unidentified people.
Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Ersin Tatar called on the Greek Cypriot administration to "come up with a policy to stop anti-Islamic activities.”
The TRNC's top religious authority said it was saddened by the news and asked the archbishop to explain the matter./aa