In November 1967, Greek Cypriot Interior Minister, and Akritas paramilitary leader, Polykarpos Giorkatzis's Greek Cypriot police tried to resume patrols of the Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood in the mixed village of Agios Theodoros. General George Grivas's National Guard helped.
When, on 15th November, fighting broke out and the National Guard invaded Agios Theodoros, it also invaded the nearby Turkish Cypriot village of Kofinou (1), where 'many houses were gutted' by fire (Crawshaw, 1978: 377). (Since then, the 'majority of houses' in Kofinou have been 'demolished' (Karaokçu, 2003c): for example, see figs. 1 and 2.)
Just a few years ago, Kofinou Mosque was in allegedly 'very good condition' (CCEAA and CCTA, 2007kk); and when I visited it, whatever Greek Cypriot nationalist slogans had been graffitied on the minaret had been whitewashed (see fig. 3).
Nonetheless, the mosque had been graffitied; and not only that. Window panes had been smashed (see fig. 4), and the building had been left open for animals to live, shit and die in it (see fig. 5).
Moroever, graves had been 'vandalized and destroyed', the memorial to the victims of the 1967 battle had been 'broken'; and Greek Cypriot police 'intervention' drove media to 'delete [their photographic] shots' of the site (Karaokçu, 2003c).
Thus, there is a long history of Greek Cypriot nationalist violence against Turkish Cypriot community places and cultural heritage sites in Kofinou; and there is evidence of other, recent damage to the mosque.
Last week's arsonist may have been a bored teenager; but there does seem to be a greater problem. [The state cannot leave the building open to the elements, untouched despite decay and damage, then be surprised when a bored kid similarly treats it like a meaningless ruin and thinks nothing of setting it alight.(2)]
- Also known as: Cofini; Geçit Kale; Geçitkale; Κοφίνου; Köfünye; Kophina; Kophino; Kophinou; Kophinu; Kyphino; and Secitkales.
- Clarification added on 3rd March 2010.
Crawshaw, N. 1978: The Cyprus revolt: An account of the struggle for union with Greece. London: George Allen and Unwin.
Karaokçu, H. 2003c: "The present conditions of Turkish Cypriot villages in south Cyprus 3". Diplomatic Observer. Available at: http://www.diplomaticobserver.com/news_read.asp?id=838
Patroclos. 2010: "Tales from the coffeeshop: The roads less travelled". The Cyprus Mail, 28th February. Available at: http://www.cyprus-mail.com/opinions/tales-coffeeshop-roads-less-travelled/20100228