Turkish Cypriot side throws Karpasia worshippers out of Christmas Day Mass

By Natalie Hami

WIDESPREAD condemnation continued yesterday over the Turkish Cypriot side’s interruption and cancellation of services at a church in occupied Rizokarpasso on Christmas Day.

The government plans to take the issue to the UN and the EU.

The Turkish side stopped the Saturday ervice on the pretext that no application had been made for permission to hold the mass at the Ayios Synesiou church.

“The act of the occupation regime to stop Christmas Day mass in Rizokarpaso is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.

“This action constitutes a violation of basic human rights such as the right to exercise freedom of religion,” he added.

Stefanou said the government had already taken steps to involve the EU and the UN. The Church said it would involve the World Council of Churches and the Pope.

DISY MEP Eleni Theocharous reported Turkey yesterday to the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.

She also communicated by phone with MEP members of the Joint Turkey-EU Parliamentary Committee EU.

The Church also denied that they had not asked for permission. It said permission is always asked at the beginning of December, and has been for the last 36 years. But it said it was not the first time that the Turkish side had stopped the service going ahead.

DISY Deputy Lefteris Christoforou said that the move had shown “the harsh and barbaric face of the occupation” Other political parties also issued their condemnation.

President Demetris Christofias said yesterday he was waiting for explanations from Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who is has been ill.