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In 1571 the mostly Greek-populated island of Cyprus was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, following the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573).

The island and its population was later leased to Britain by the Cyprus Convention, an agreement reached during the Congress of Berlin in 1878 between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire.

It was later supported and organized directly by the Turkish government, On 12 June 1958, eight Greek Cypriot men from Kondemenos village, who were arrested by the British police as part of an armed group suspected of preparing an attack against the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Skylloura, were killed by the TMT near the Turkish Cypriot populated village of Gönyeli, after being dropped off there by the British authorities.

The following year, after the conclusion of the independence agreements on Cyprus, the Turkish Navy sent a ship to Cyprus fully loaded with arms for the TMT.

British colonial policies also promoted ethnic polarization.

The British applied the principle of "divide and rule", setting the two groups against each other to prevent combined action against colonial rule.

Turkish Cypriots quickly adopted the secular program of Turkish nationalism.

Under Ottoman rule Turkish Cypriots had been classified as Muslims, a distinction based on religion.

These principles of secularism (laicism) and nationalism reduced Islam's role in the everyday life of individuals and emphasized Turkish identity as the main source of nationalism.

Traditional education with a religious foundation was discarded and replaced with one that followed secular principles and, shorn of Arab and Persian influences, was purely Turkish.

Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived quietly side by side for many years.

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