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Religious teaching and political context: the case of Cyprus

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In this article I aim to explore some philosophical issues involved in teaching religion in Cyprus and suggest some preconditions in order for this teaching to be sensitive to the multicultural character of the island and conducive to the vision of reconciliation and reunification. First, I shall clarify some particularities of the political problem of Cyprus, since many misconceptions obscure the understanding of the real stakes at issue, having crucial repercussions for demarcating the role of religious belief. For the Cyprus problem has been misconceived by many people as a kind of religious and ethnic conflict, thus raising various kinds of false dilemmas and expectations in relation to the local religions (Christian Orthodoxy and Islam) and their future cultivation in the schools of the two communities. I shall attempt to ‘put the record straight' in a way, showing that the Cyprus issue is not reducible to the religious difference of the peoples involved, and suggest what I believe is the real challenge now regarding the teaching of religion in this part of the world. The independence treaties left Cypriots—particularly Greek Cypriots—with a political half‐life. If the NATO allies thought the contrived constitutional arrangement would enable the two communities to live peacefully together, they were badly mistaken. (O'Malley & Craig, 2002, p. 87)Like forgetting, forgiving permits starting over. But unlike forgetting, political forgiveness requires that the past be recalled and acknowledged for what it is. (Digeser, 1998, p. 716)
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Cyprus

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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