In Iraq and Syria, minority Christians are still on the run from Islamic State. Yet in the rest of the region, the tragedy has triggered an unusual competition of ecumenical goodwill. Religious leaders in Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon have recently proclaimed their societies are models of coexistence between Muslims and Christians. Outside the Middle East, Malaysia and Indonesia have also hailed their interfaith social harmony.
Now another place may soon be added to the chorus – Cyprus – and perhaps help in drowning out Islamic State’s assertion of a right to dominance in the holy land.
If negotiations aimed at reuniting Cyprus can conclude this spring, as seems more possible than ever, the divided Mediterranean island can also claim to be a model of Muslim-Christian reconciliation.
Since 1974, Cyprus has been split between ethnic Turks in the north and ethnic Greeks in the south, a result of Greece’s then-junta trying to take the entire island. Turkey still keeps thousands of troops on the Turkish side. Trust between the two communities has improved, a result of international efforts, but remains low. They have lived apart for decades. And both sides have claims to settle against each other.