Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots took to the streets yesterday to protest against what they say is Turkey’s attempt to Islamise their secular culture.
According to this report, some 1,500 mostly young people blew whistles and raised their hands in front of Parliament in the Turkish Cypriot part of the ethnically divided island’s capital, Nicosia.
They were protesting against the creation of a “coordination committee” that will fund, oversee and approve all youth sport and cultural activities.
Protesters from some 80 groups spanning the political spectrum believe that the committee’s hidden agenda is to impose a more Islamic way of life by funding cultural and sporting projects that will include religious elements.
The committee is headed by a Turkish national who has been appointed by the Turkish government and is “all about religion” and instruction about the Koran, Ottoman customs and the Arabic language, Turkish Cypriot lawmaker Zeki Celer said.
Turkish Cypriots are more secular, we believe how we chose to believe and we don’t need any one to teach us how.
A Turkish invasion in 1974 following a coup aiming at union with Greece cleaved the island into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south.
Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains more than 35,000 troops in the north.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are locked in complex negotiations aimed at reunifying the island as a federation.
Some Turkish Cypriots have voiced concern over what they perceive as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s more authoritarian line in the wake of last month’s coup that aimed to oust him.