Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Kofinou Mosque, village: previous destruction - arson context

In this post, I just want briefly to summarise previous damage to Kofinou Mosque, and damage to and destruction of other buildings in the village. It provides a context for the recent arson, and may challenge the Greek Cypriot police's dismissal of the arson as 'teenage troublemak[ing]' (paraphrased by Patroclos, 2010).

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.)

Fig. 1: the floor of one demolished home.

Fig. 2: the ruins of another demolished home.

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).

Fig. 3: Kofinou Mosque minaret - note the whitewashed graffiti.

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).

Fig. 4: a smashed window pane over the mosque doorway.

Fig. 5: more smashed windows, and bird-shit-draped window frames and floors.

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)]
  1. Also known as: Cofini; Geçit Kale; Geçitkale; Κοφίνου; Köfünye; Kophina; Kophino; Kophinou; Kophinu; Kyphino; and Secitkales.
  2. Clarification added on 3rd March 2010.
CCEAA and CCTA (Cyprus Civil Engineers' and Architects' Association and Chamber of Cyprus Turkish Architects). 2007kk: "Kofinou Mosque [Kophinou, Larnaca District]". Cyprus Temples, 17th November. Available at: http://www.cyprustemples.com/templedetails.asp?id=271

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


  1. i suggest you go to the turkish-occupied north, and see how greek-cypriot homes,churches and graves are "kept" and then bitch about..the turkish buildings on the free-european-internationally recognised cyprus republic....ok?
    why dont you post pictures of what you have done on the occuppied side of the island?at least...we never turned any of your religious buildings into mosques.like you have done with our churches,,destroyed graves, removed crosses,,etc etc etc..too much to go on about...a

  2. Andreas,

    I suggest you go to the Rizokarpaso: cultural heritage and community photo blog, and see the pictures I did post of how Greek Cypriot homes are "kept".

    First, you told me to go to the occupied areas, which made it sound like you thought I was a foreigner.

    Then, you asked me why I hadn't posted photos of what '[I] have done' in the occupied areas, and told me about your treatment of '[my] religious buildings', which made it sound like I was Turkish Cypriot.

    I am English. I haven't done anything to your cultural heritage, and you haven't done anything to mine.

    EOKA bombed a lot of British buildings, but that was political sabotage, not ethnic cleansing; and the British colonial forces demolished EOKA property, too. I am interested in that; but I am concentrating on cultural heritage.

    One of the reasons I have posted more photographs of Turkish Cypriot villages than of Greek Cypriot churches is because everyone knows how Greek Cypriot churches have suffered; but not everyone knows how Turkish Cypriot villages suffered.

    Another of the reasons is that I was driven out of the occupied areas by Turkish Cypriot secret police interference; I didn't have the same freedom/opportunity to research the destruction of Greek Cypriot property.

  3. Ανδρέα,

    Ελπίζω ότι θα μπορέσουμε να μιλήσουμε ευγενικά και να έχουμε ενδιαφέρουσα κουβέντα, αλλά αλήθεια, βαριέμαι πάντα να ακούω απ'τους Ελληνοκύπριους πώς είμαι Τουρκόφιλος κι απ'τους Τουρκοκύπριους πώς είμαι Ελληνόφιλος.

    Κι Ελληνοκύπριοι κι Τουρκοκύπριοι με βοηθούσαν να κάνω έρευνα στη πολιτιστική κληρονομιά των άλλων. Κι η Ελληνοκυπριακή αστυνομία κι η Τουρκοκυπριακή αστυνομία παρέμβαιναν στη δουλειά μου.

    Το πρόβλημα δεν είναι ότι "εμείς υποφέραμε περισσότερο" ή ότι "αυτοί έκαναν τα χειρότερα πράγματα", και δε θα παίξω αυτό το παινίδι.

    Όλοι σας υποφέρατε μαζί. Ο "δικός σας" πόνος είναι και δικός τους, κι ο "δικός τους" είναι και δικός σας.

    Δε θα σπαταλήσω ούτε το χρόνο μου ούτε την δραστηριότητα μου να δημιουργήσω υλικά τα όποια μπορούν να καταχραστούν οι εθνιστές από τους όποιους δημιουργήθηκε το αρχικό πρόβλημα.

  4. all we need is another british fucking DOGOODER to to bitch about what we done to the turks .
    Weall prey the day will come for all TURKS to fuckoff back to where they originated from so we can knock down all of the mosques down to build new schools and army barracks for GREEK CYPRIOTS.

  5. Did you take the time to read the comment above, where I showed you where to find me bitching about what the Turkish military/deep state did to you, before you spouted that racist drivel?

    If you cannot behave in a civilised manner, kindly regard elsewhere.