Kanal T, one of North Cyprus’ biggest television channels, has announced it is to broadcast this evening’s Mevlit (traditional prayers) to commemorate the 35 Turkish Cypriots in Britain who have lost their lives to the coronavirus.
The start of the Mevlit has been put back a half hour to 5.30pm UK time (7.30pm Cyprus & Turkey time), so the broadcast can start immediately after the channel’s main evening news.
The hour-long Mevlit will be conducted by Husayn Hashim El Bakayi from Dalston’s Shacklewell Lane Mosque – the UK’s first Turkish-owned mosque.
The prayer night is an integral part of Islam after a death. Turkish Cypriot families traditionally hold a Mevlit on three consecutive days after the burial of a loved one. However, the ban on gatherings has put a stop to this vital tradition.
Husayn Hashim El Bakayi, the principal pastor (‘hoca’) for British Turkish Cypriots, was asked by families and community leaders to stream a communal Mevlit for the benefit of all those who had lost loved ones.
Originally, the Mevlit was to be streamed online via Facebook, however after T-VINE broke the news on Saturday morning, the story went viral and demand for access to the prayer night from the UK’s 300,000 strong community surged.
“My phone has not stopped ringing,” Husayn Hoca told T-VINE. “It’s not just UK Turkish Cypriots, but also relatives and friends [of the victims] in North Cyprus who want to watch. The demand has been huge.”
By Saturday afternoon, conversations between London and Lefkoşa prompted Kanal T to get involved.
The channel’s broadcast means anyone in North Cyprus, Turkey and Europe with Turkish satellite (TURKSAT) can also watch from home. Kanal T will also stream the Mevlit via its Facebook page.
On Friday, Husayn Hoca, who is the founder and chair of the Cyprus Islamic Association, said:
“This has been such an extraordinarily difficult time for bereaved families. The virus has stopped them from seeing loved ones before they pass over, and from attending funerals. Everything that is sacred to us during this important final journey has been turned on its head. The physical isolation is compounding their grief.”
“I hope the Mevlit and the recital will not only be a blessing to our loved ones, but also give peace to the family members who are still coming to terms with their loss. Let’s pray that the power of prayer will heal our souls and give peace to those many members of the community who have been left broken hearted,” he added.