Once a ghost town, Turkish Cyprus’ Maraş (Varosha) district has seen the first Friday prayers performed in 47 years.
The prayers were performed with the attendance of Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar at the Bilal Ağa Masjid, which is known to have a history of 200 years.
The prayers were led by Erdoğan Eken, the Religious Services Advisor at the Turkish Embassy in Lefkoşa (Nicosia).
Turkish Cypriot President Tatar said that it is “peaceful” and “beautiful” that they performed their first Friday prayers after 47 years.
“I would like to thank all the people that contributed to the restoration of this masjid,” he said.
Partially opened on Oct. 8, 2020, after remaining a "ghost town" for decades in the wake of Turkey's 1974 peace operation on the island in response to a coup aimed at Cyprus's annexation by Greece, Varosha has attracted both people living in the TRNC as well as foreign tourists, with the environment and landscape around the town also boosting its appeal.
The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation of the island was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's subsequent intervention as a guarantor power.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K.
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