Introduction / History The Iraqi Arabs of Cyprus live on the third largest island of the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus. The Ottoman Turks ruled the island from 1570 to 1878. During that time Muslims from all over the empire settled on the island. The British ruled Cyprus from 1878 to 1960 when Cyprus gained its independence. The Turkish Army invaded Cyprus in 1974 when it looked like the majority Greek population wanted to become part of Greece. The Turkish government encouraged 150,000 Muslim Turks to leave Turkey and settle on Cyprus. Now the island is divided. The Muslims including the Iraqi Arabs live in North Cyprus, which is controlled by Turkey. With the current turmoil and violence in Iraq, more Iraqi Arabs are migrating to Cyprus.
Cyprus is a relatively prosperous island and a member of the European Union. The Iraqi Arabs on the island enjoy a high standard of living working as businessmen, merchants and in trade, tourism and banking. The primary language of the Iraqi Arabs on Cyprus is Iraqi Arabic. They also know Turkish and Greek. Many of the men speak English and other European languages.
Where are they located? The Iraqi Arabs live in the north region of the island called North Cyprus.
What are their lives like? Unlike the Iraqis who live in Iraq, the Iraqis of Cyprus can live in a peaceful, prosperous place. Most of them are speak Arabic, Turkish and Greek so they can carry on trade and exchanges with many different peoples of the western Mediterranean and Middle East.
Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Most homes consist of a couple and their children. Families often live near their extended families. Sons frequently follow in the same business as their fathers. Most Muslim women live somewhat secluded lives dedicated to their children and domestic responsibilities. Sons are encouraged to get college educations while most girls learn only the basics of reading and writing.
What are their beliefs? The Iraqi Arabs of Cyprus people are Sunni, the largest branch of Islam. They attempt to obey the teachings of the Qur'an and the prophet Mohammad. They believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime.
The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.
What are their needs? The Iraqi Arabs of Cyprus need to hear the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see Christ in the lives of believers. The Isa of the Qur'an is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Iraqi Arabs must learn the difference.
Prayer Points * Pray that the tiny number of believers among the Iraqi Arabs of Cyprus might grow and share their faith with their brothers and sisters.
* Pray for Iraqi Arab families and communities to discover and embrace the free gift of life found by trusting Christ and his finished work.
* Pray the Lord will give Iraqi Arab families understanding and responsive hearts as they hear about the love of Christ.