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Grand Imam to Protect Church Buildings

ICC Note: It is rare to hear of Muslim leaders agreeing to protect Christian churches. Grand Imam Tantawi’s example ought to be imitated more often.

7/27/07 Cyprus ( – Egypt ‘s most senior Muslim cleric has agreed to help protect Orthodox churches under Turkish occupation since 1974 in the island republic.

Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, the grand imam of Egypt , told Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, that he would support the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus to help prevent further destruction of the religious sites, the Cyprus News Agency reported.

The archbishop reported that more than 500 churches in occupied Cyprus need urgent restoration to avoid collapsing because of structural weaknesses.

According to the archbishop’s press spokesman, Andreas Demetriou, the pledge was given at a one-hour meeting between the two held in Cairo , during which the archbishop outlined the situation on the island.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II also explained to Grand Imam Tantawi that the Church of Cyprus had always respected Muslim places of worship on the island.

Grand Imam Tantawi said he would work for peace and love in Cyprus while promising support for the Orthodox Church.