Calls continue for Head of Religious Affairs to resign

The TRNC Religious Affairs Department has been repeatedly demanding the dismissal of the head of department, Talip Atalay.

Atalay who was recently detained and questioned in Mersin on suspicion of having links to FETO terrorist organisation and then released, has been supported by President Mustafa Akinci. Akinci has disregarded calls by the department and the Turkish embassy, the EVKAF religious foundation’ administration and the coalition government for his dismissal, Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris’ reports.

All such demands were rejected by President Akinci, according to the article, which added that Turkey’s stance against Atalay was first exhibited when Ozkan Yorgancioglu became prime minister from September, 2013, when it submitted a request for an annulment of his appointment.

The same demand was sent to Akinci’s office on 22 May 2015 by the EVKAF with a letter signed by Ibrahim Benter, general director of the foundation. The demand was based on the opinion of EVKAF’s lawyer Orun Solyali that Atalay had acted contrary to the contract he had signed and was carrying out political activities.

Akinci was asked not to renew the contract, but he ignored this demand. The same demand was submitted by Prime Minister Huseyin Ozgurgun’s current government more than once, but Akinci did not reply to this, because Atalay’s positive dialogue with Archbishop Chrysostomos and the initiative of engaging in dialogue among Cyprus’ religious leaders was useful for the Cyprus negotiations.

According to the paper, after the recent developments, Akinci’s reply to the above-mentioned demand is expected with interest.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Yeni Duzen’ published exclusive statements by Atalay, who said that he did not want to comment on the fact that the TRNC authorities had made had no statement on his arrest. However he said, “You will interpret this”, adding that those who “were dealing with him” were, in the main, the former heads of the civil defence organisation, Fatih Yarimbas and Firat Alakus. He noted that the source of the indictment prepared against him in Turkey is in North Cyprus and added:

In the file, reference is made to me as one of the heads of FETO in Cyprus. Such a report was submitted in February through the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March they say that an arrest warrant was issued against me. I went to Turkey and came back many times and I was not arrested. If a letter about me came from here, through whom did it go? I will not resign”.

Kibris, Yeni Duzen

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