RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Many Christian churches in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus have been desecrated and transformed into storage facilities, museums or even mosques.

The archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, told the 33rdRimini Meeting that 120 Christian churches have been affected and that the artworks in the churches have also been confiscated and sold.

Speaking on Monday to the gathering, the archbishop said that Cyprian Christians have also suffered from a lack of religious liberty and have suffered attacks.

Moreover, those who wish to visit sites such as the tomb of the Apostle Barnabas and other places have to pay to enter.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II said that Turkey is trying to eliminate Christianity in the part of Cyprus that they control.

Cancelling out the Christian presence is worrying he said, as Christianity’s values have so much to contribute to humanity.

Another speaker at the meeting, Franco Frattini, a former minister for foreign affairs in the Italian government and now the president of the Alcide de Gasperi Foundation, agreed with the remarks of the Cyprian archbishop and said that religious liberty is not limited to personal worship but includes the ability to express the faith publically.

Salman Shaik, director of the Brookings Doha Center, a research organization that studies Muslim nations, said that following the so-called “Arab Spring” it is necessary to focus on religious liberty.