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Q: cultural change and tourism ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: cultural change and tourism
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: castaway-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 03 Dec 2003 07:37 PST
Expires: 02 Jan 2004 07:37 PST
Question ID: 283048
I'm writing my 3rd year geography dissertation on cyprus culture and
tourism and need information regarding the history of the religion
there. Any information you could provide would be very much

alex dimitriou
Subject: Re: cultural change and tourism
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 03 Dec 2003 13:22 PST
Hello there

The history of religion on Cyprus is an ongoing history of conflict. 
Two dogmatic absolutes control different sections of the island and
each is the "only true way."  Just ask 'em.  Cyprus is one of the
classic examples of "God and Country" where nationalism and
superstition combine, as they often do, into the great twin evils of
history in whose name just about every atrocity known to man has been

Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many things but keep separate
identities based on religion and language.

Cyprus became an independent nation in 1960 and Greek Orthodox
Archbishop Makarios was elected president.

During its history, Cyprus has been ruled by more than two dozen
nations, by Medieval knights, city states and self appointed kings.

So probably the best way to go would be to actually intertwine two
answers, one dealing with Christian (Greek Orthodox) Cyprus and
another for Islamic Cyprus.

Christianity was introduced early in the Christian Era, when Cyprus
was under Roman rule, by the apostles Paul, Mark, and Barnabas. The
martyrdom of Barnabas and the later discovery of his tomb are
particularly important events in the history of the Church of Cyprus
and were instrumental in its becoming autocephalous rather than
remaining subordinate to the patriarchate of Antioch.

Cyprus was of course part of the Byzantine world and Eastern Orthodox
Christianity grew during that time.  However, there was a hiatus in
that church's influence which lasted almost 400 years. (1191-1571)  
The oppression and suppression of the Greek Orthodox Church by the
Roman Catholic Church (the Lusignans and Venetians) was severe and
deadly.  The lands and property of the Greek Orthodox church were
confiscated and given to Roman Catholic Sees.  The Orthodox Bishops
and clergy were suppressed and murdered or deported to remote parts of
the island.  Among the common people, those who refused to bend to
Roman dogma and authority were 'eliminated' for the good of the Latin

After the Turkish (Islamic) conquest in 1571, the new rulers
re-introduced the privilages of the Greek Orthodox Church denied by
the Latin occupation.  The Archbishop was declared "Ethnarch", the
leader of the community.  The Greeks were free to elect their local
rulers and run their schools as they saw fit.  Once again they were
allowed to own and transfer property.

Turkish Rule immediately ended the humiliation, the slavery and
poverty of the Greek people and they were given freedom and full
citizenship rights. Thus the Greek Cypriot people and the Greek
Orthodox Church became active in agriculture as well as in commercial
life.  It was the Turks who established, for the first time in the
long history of Cyprus, a civil administration and code which was
based on communal self-rule and free elections.

But regardless of what happened in 1571, or what the claimed results
were, the fact remains that Cyprus was still not an independent nation
but had simply traded one master for another.

You realize of course that there are two very distinct sides when
dealing with religious history and Cyprus.  The Greeks and the Turks
have agreed on little regarding the presentation of events as they
happened.  Due to that aspect of things, and the vehement reactions
some of those claims create,  you will find some of each side's claims
and versions of history included in this answer in an attempt for
balance in presentation.

We will now jump ahead to 2002 and the religious situation as it is
now.  Since your question also seems to deal with tourism, current
aspects of things may have more of a bearing.

Cyprus has had a long period of communal strife between its Greek
Orthodox Christian and Turkish Islamic communities.  Because of that,
the UN started peacekeeping operations in 1964 and the island has been
divided since the Turkish military intervention of 1974 following a
coup attempt directed from Greece.  The southern part of the island is
under the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the north by a
Turkish Cypriot administration.  In 1983, that administration
proclaimed itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but is
recognized by no country except Turkey.

Approximately 96 percent of the population in the
government-controlled area are Greek Orthodox.   An estimated 99
percent of the Turkish Cypriot population is at least nominally

"The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus provides for freedom of
religion, and the Government generally respects this right in
practice. The basic law in the Turkish Cypriot community also provides
for freedom of religion, and the authorities generally respect this
right in practice. Turkish Cypriots residing in the south and Greek
Cypriots living in the north are allowed to practice their religions.

The 1960 Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus specifies that the
Greek Orthodox Church (which is autocephalous and not under the
authority of the mainland Greek Orthodox Church) has the exclusive
right to regulate and administer its internal affairs and property in
accordance with its holy canons and charter. The Constitution states
that the Turkish Cypriot religious trust, the Vakf (the Muslim
institution that regulates religious activity for Turkish Cypriots),
has the exclusive right to regulate and administer its internal
affairs and property in accordance with Vakf laws and principles. No
legislative, executive, or other act can contravene or interfere with
the Orthodox Church or the Vakf. Both the Greek Orthodox Church and
the Vakf are exempt from taxes with regard to religious activity.
According to law, they are required to pay taxes only on strictly
commercial activity.

Three other religious groups are recognized in the Constitution:
Armenian Orthodox, Maronite Christians, and Latins (Roman Catholics).
These groups also are exempt from taxes and are eligible, along with
the Greek Orthodox Church and the Vakf, for government subsidies to
their religious institutions. No other religious group is recognized
in the Constitution." - - - Quote from International Religious Freedom
Report of the US State department.

The Government of Cyprus recognizes the following religious holidays
as national holidays: the Epiphany, Annunciation, Good Friday, Easter
Monday, Holy Spirit Day, Assumption Day, and Christmas Day.

"In the northern part of the island, the Turkish Cypriot basic law
refers specifically to a "secular republic," and provides for
religious freedom; no specific religion is recognized in the basic
law. However, based on the 1960 Constitution, the Vakf, which pays the
costs of Muslim religious activities and the salaries of Muslim
religious leaders, is tax-exempt in regard to its religious activities
(the Vakf pays taxes on its commercial and real estate operations) and
receives official subsidies. No other religious organization is
tax-exempt or receives subsidies.

Religious organizations are not required to register with the Turkish
Cypriot authorities unless they wish to engage in commercial activity
or apply for tax-exempt status. There are no legal restrictions on
missionary activity; however, such activity is rare.

There is instruction in religion, ethics, and comparative religions in
two grades of the primary school system in the Turkish Cypriot
community. There is no formal Islamic religious instruction in public
schools, and there are no state-supported religious schools." - - -
Quote from International Religious Freedom Report of the US State

The Orthodox Church is rightfully suspicious of any attempts to
proselytize among Greek Cypriots and closely monitors such activities.
On occasion the Greek Cypriot media has given extensive coverage to
the activities of foreign missionaries, especially those representing
various 'fundamentalist' positions, creating a chilling effect on
those activities.  The Greek Orthodox Church is well aware of the
community dividing and socially destructive aspects of such
conservative Christian sects and seeks to minimize the problems before
they begin.  There have already been enough religious problems for the
country without importing additional ones.

Religion is a much more important component of Greek Cypriot society
than it is of Turkish Cypriot society, with correspondingly greater
cultural and political clout.  The best example of the relationship
between church and state among Greek Cypriots is the fact that the
leader of the Greek Cypriot campaign for independence in the 1950's
was also the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Makarios
III, who became president from independence in 1960 until his death in
1977.  As the largest owner of real estate in the south and the
operator of several large business enterprises, the Greek Orthodox
Church is a significant economic factor. Similarly, the Vakf is the
largest landowner in the north.

I have tried to avoid getting into other cultural issues dealing with
Cyprus as you may already have them for your dissertation and they
could only muddy the waters while dealing with religion in Cyprus.

The following websites were used to compose the above: - Cyprus - HISTORY - From
Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress - you may want to
look up additional resources here.  There is a link to the Cyprus
Table of Contents which is jam packed with information.  You could
probably do your dissertation from just what is found there. - Cyprus - Ethnicity - From the
same source as above - Cyprus History:
1960 Republic of Cyprus
- allRefer Reference - Cyprus - Religion | Cypriot Information
Resource -
Encyclopedia: History of Cyprus - From - International
Religious Freedom Report 2002 - From US State Department

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