A video published by Turkish media shows a person, purportedly a Greek Cypriot teenager, pulling down a Turkish flag in a local schoolyard during a pilgrimage in the north.
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According to local media, over 2000 Greek Cypriots visited on Sunday their village of origin in Lysi/Akdogan in the north, where they were able to hold a church service for the first time in 45 years.
A known social media influencer in the south strongly condemned the teen’s behaviour after a video emerged of the incident
The visit was coordinated with Turkish Cypriot authorities that granted special permission, while local police were also on site according to reports.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, one of the visitors described as a 16-year-old male, was captured on security camera pulling down a Turkish flag while he is also believed to have stolen a photograph of the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
The boy is believed to have managed to jump over the fence at the village’s primary school where he allegedly went inside a classroom and tried to take down photographs that were hanging on the wall, managing to remove only one.
He was then seen on video approaching a flag pole in the schoolyard and using a knife to cut the flag ropes. He was then able to pull down the Turkish flag and run away.
A Greek Cypriot peace activist, originally from Lysi, initially posted a comment on Facebook dismissing allegations that the perpetrators were Greek Cypriots, saying it could be the work of Turkish nationalists who wanted to stir up trouble. He went on to explain that there was a large crowd and police presence in the area, making the task unthinkable.
But the Facebook user, a known social media influencer in the south who later deleted the original post, strongly condemned the teen’s behaviour after a video emerged of the incident.
“A spoiled brat, who was caught in a moment of nationalistic exhilaration, destroyed efforts of cooperation and mutual respect that took a year and half to build and yield results,” he wrote.
But another Greek Cypriot representative from Lysi, Andreas Kaouris, told the Cyprus News Agency that Sunday’s visit could not be be overshadowed by an isolated incident.
“A tsunami of love was demonstrated by the Lysiotes on Sunday, as over 2000 came to their birth land on the occasion of the Feast of the Virgin Mother, and this could not in any way be overshadowed by an isolated incident carried out by a 16-year-old,” Kaouris said.
Turkish Cypriot officials said they were investigating the incident and trying to determine the identity of the teenager, while media reports said Greek Cypriot officials would be asked to pitch in.
Unconfirmed reports said the boy later showed remorse and apologised over the incident.