Hundreds of Turks crossed the Green Line dividing Cyprus on Thursday to pray at a mosque in the Greek-majority south, a rare pilgrimage made possible by a 2014 accord.
In searing heat, police escorted a convoy of buses carrying the pilgrims to the Hala Sultan Tekke mosque, a site revered by Muslims as the burial site of the aunt of the Prophet Mohammed.
The visitors then held a prayer service marking Eid al-Fitr, the festival that concludes the fasting month of Ramadan.
The mufti of Cyprus, Talip Atalay, negotiated an agreement in 2014 with Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the island’s Greek Orthodox church, to allow Turkish pilgrims to pray three times a year at the site.
Yunus, a 21-year-old student from Adana in southern Turkey, said he was delighted to make it to the mosque.
“When I heard that I could come, I was really happy,” he told AFP. “We can all pray together, it’s very important.”
Representatives of the Maronite, Armenian, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, who have expressed support for the peace process, also took part in the prayers.