Muslims living in the north of Cyprus crossed the ceasefire line Tuesday morning into the government controlled part of the island for a pilgrimage to Hala Sultan Tekke, a prominent Muslim shrine in Larnaca.
Cyprus police and UNFICYP personnel are facilitating the transportation of 700 pilgrims, in 15 buses, to and from one of Islam’s most important shrines under tight security.
The pilgrimage is organised to celebrate the Muslim feast of Eid Al Adha or Kurban Bayram.
Deputy police spokesman Stelios Stylianos told CNA that security measures will be taken during the transportation of the pilgrims to and from the mosque and during their stay there.
“These special pilgrimages are the fruits of the religious leaders’ dialogue and cooperation for
which we are both committed to and most grateful for.
“No matter what, as religious leaders of Cyprus we all agree and advocate for religious freedom and these pilgrimages are one concrete such example,” said Mufti Talip Atalay.
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The pilgrimage takes place after Nicosia gave its permission, allowing Muslims to pray at the very important religious site.
But Greek Cypriots pilgrims were denied the right to visit a church in Morphou last week to celebrate Ayios Mamas by the breakaway Turkish Cypriot regime.
Several crossing points operate along the 180km-long UN patrolled ceasefire line, since the Turkish Cypriot regime lifted partially restrictions on the free movement of people in April 2003.
Repeated rounds of UN-backed peace talks have so far failed to lead to a political settlement to reunify Cyprus.