Prayer rooms for Christians and Muslims open at Dhekelia
"Prisoners from all faiths are now able to use these rooms to find a place of peace, worship and reflection"
Religious leaders from the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities participated on Wednesday in the official opening of two multi-faith prayer rooms at the Prison of Dhekelia British Bases.
According to an official announcement issued by the Bases, the two purpose-built rooms – a church and a mescit (mosque) – will provide prisoners with a much-needed place of worship throughout their incarceration.
It was a project that Bases officials have been working on for a number of years now and according to Bases Administrator, Air Vice Marshal Mike Wigston, it has been long overdue.
Speaking to leaders from both the Christian and Muslim faith and numerous other members of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, the Administrator said he was delighted the project was finally completed.
“Prisoners from all faiths are now able to use these rooms to find a place of peace, worship and reflection” he added.
During the ceremony, Father Kyriakos Panayiotou bestowed a Greek Orthodox blessing upon the church facility and Muftu Samir Alemdar did the same outside of the mescit.
Speaking after the blessing, Muftu Alemdar said that this is an “important humanitarian step forward”.
“There is only one creator, regardless of what we may call him, we are all descendants from Adam and Eve and we should be able to worship, whether that be in a church or in prison” he added.
Dhekelia Divisional Commander Jim Guy explained, during the ceremony, why the multi-faith prayer rooms were more important now than ever.
“The type of prisoners we have in the prison has changed dramatically over the years and to date, we have had 22 different nationalities housed inside at some point, which makes the opening of these rooms even more necessary” he explained.
According to Bases` announcement, Dhekelia prison now has the capacity to accommodate up to 13 prisoners at one time and since 2015 that has also included women after a separate wing was opened.