Life in Famagusta pre 1956
Cyprus could have been the perfect role model for Muslims and Christians living in harmony together but events beyond the control of simple villagers and farmers conspired together to bring about an enmity which lasts until today.
Cyprus of old was a sleepy place where people went about their business in a quiet way, content to live as the land allowed them. Prior to 1878 the island was part of the Ottoman Empire and the administration was biased towards the Turkish Cypriot population which had been swollen by migration through the empire.
In 1878 the island became a British protectorate and the Greek Cypriot population felt that their star was in the ascendant. They believed themselves to be the true Cypriots from ancient times, descendents of the Hellenes and Byzantines and with the British now in charge they felt their case would now be heard. For much of British rule, life was improved for the inhabitants. They introduced better administration, eradicated malaria and improved roads and communications. What they failed to do was to understand the needs of the people living on the island, a mistake that was to prove costly, not only for the British but ultimately for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Life was generally peaceful between Greek and Turk and, where enmity existed, it was often directed at the British rulers who had been indifferent to the Greek Cypriots’ wish for enosis with Greece and who had abolished or overruled Turkish Cypriot influence on schools and other Islamic institutions.
Eventually the call for enosis grew stronger and the Turkish Cypriots began to see portents of a dangerous future for them. In response to this they set up their own association called KATAK (The Association of the Turkish Minority of the Island of Cyprus). This was followed by the formation and transformation of political parties and newspapers whose bent turned more and more towards protecting the rights of Turkish Cypriots in any coming power struggle.
To many of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots this was just posturing by their political masters and many lived and thrived happily under benign British rule. Accounts from the time tell of an awareness of differences between the two communities but still the good nature to see each other as Cypriots and fellow villagers. Marriages between Greek and Turkish families were not uncommon paving the way to more heartbreak when events took a turn for the worse.
August 25, 2010
| with 0 comments