State broadcaster CyBC employees’ union SYTYRIK warned the organisation on Tuesday not to pay a cent of the €21,000 fine imposed on them by the Cyprus Radiotelevision Authority for airing an interview in March of a Greek singer who was deemed as inciting hate, from the station’s budget.
CyBC was slapped with the fine for airing an interview with Notis Sfakianakis, who called, among others, the Syrian refugees arriving in Greece deserters and that they rape and Islamise the country.
According to the ruling, the authority found that there are violations of the Cyprus Broadcasting Law on airing content “inciting hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality”.
It imposed a total administrative fine of €21,000 for the three times the TV show was aired, on March 13, March 14 and March 20.
In an announcement, the union called on the board of the CyBC “to rise to the occasion and assume its responsibilities”.
“We call on you not pay a cent from the CyBC budget. The obsessions of some led us to repeat the broadcast (three times) despite the reactions […] it initially caused. Who is responsible for this? Find the culprits,” the employees said.
They also urged the broadcaster’s board “to go out and protect CyBC in the media. We expect someone to take some responsibility,” they said.
Sfakianakis, who has in the past expressed his support for the far right Greek party Golden Dawn, was a guest of Tasos Tryfonos on his weekly show Tete-a-Tete.
Last year, following his comment supporting Golden Dawn another singer, Despina Vandi, cancelled their joint performances in a night club, citing as reason that her parents had too migrated to Germany.
Commenting on this during the TV show, Sfakianakis said that he too was an immigrant, but that the ones arriving in Greece due to the war in Syria were not. He said that he and members of his family who migrated to other countries, were immigrants as they received permits from their receiving countries to live there.
“They (Syrians) are not refugees. They are deserters, they are not refugees,” Sfakianakis said during the TV show.
When the presenter, Tryfonos told him that he was being unfair, he repeated that they are deserters.
“No other country invaded them, a foreign people that is. They left their country which has a civil war,” he said. He added that they should remain in Syria “to solve their country’s problems. Why don’t they stay in Turkey and they can send them straight to where they want to go?”
He added that in Turkey they have the same religion as them. He also expressed fears that as other countries were closing their borders to them they would remain in Greece.
“There will be no Greeks. We will not be able to speak this language (Greek). They will force you to live under other conditions. And I do not want to allow this, because I love my country a tad more than my family,” Sfakianakis said.
He said that he would agree if refugees were given permission to enter Greece. “If I allow it, then you should come in”.
Sfakianakis said that he had felt racism against him while an immigrant in Germany but that Greeks are not racists. “We are not racists to the people of any race, and colour”.
He also said that when he first visited London in the late 1980s, he was surprised to see “many races, blacks, Pakistanis, Asians. I didn’t see many English people”.
“That’s the magic of London, that it is multi-cultural”, Tryfonos said.
“Is that magic? That’s nightmare,” Sfakianakis replied.
The radiotelevision authority said in its ruling that it was surprised to hear from CyBC that they didn’t believe Sfakianakis’ comments were not inciting hatred against race, religion or family.
“The authority wonders what other feelings could be caused by a public speech full of expressions like: hordes of people arrived which rape our country, [..] they Islamise Greece, and because they reproduce like rabbits, there will be no Greece, no Greeks,” the ruling said.
As to CyBC’s claims that it is its role to transmit all points of view to promote polyphony, the authority said even though it agrees with the principle, the broadcaster has to do so within the law and it is liable when it violates it.
The authority also rejected CyBC’s claims that it would be considered censorship if they did not air it, and said that “it wonders if CyBC would feel the same if the views in question belonged to a paedophile”.