Cyprus Mail

‘Shocking and alarming’ example of ‘hate speech’

I am a regular reader of your newspaper, and I enjoy the diversity of perspectives in your articles. I am aware of the fact that on a sensitive issue like the Cyprus problem, people may have different points of view and may have different political ideologies. After long suffering and conflicts on the island, our island has been divided for the last fifty years. Thankfully, there have been many positive movements between the two communities during the last fifteen years. In an era when we are in the process of building bridges to unite the island, I have come across an article in Cyprus Mail by Patroclos’ Tales from the Coffeeshop.

I regularly read this author’s articles and those of other regular CM columnists. However, a sentence that I have spotted in this article saddened, shocked and worried me. The author casually commented on a Diko political rally, stating that he received a call to participate in this political gathering. However, his response was “I told the caller that I would not go even if Junior (Nicolas Papadopoulos) planned to pour petrol on three Turkish settlers on the stage and set them alight”.

He apparently doesn’t support Diko but his comment is shocking and alarming! This sentence involves utter racism and hate speech. There is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech, and I believe that this sentence can well be categorised as hate speech.

Targeting a group of people based on their ethnic origin and making a comment that involves a violent act towards them is the very essence of hate speech. Regardless of their ethnicity, there is no justifiable reason to describe pouring petrol on three human beings on stage and burning them alive. This comment is beyond any political ideology, stance and opinion. Furthermore, such a racist comment cannot be and should not be a matter of a political joke or humour either.

Therefore, I will be happy if you can take action towards this author and publicly announce what your action is. Moreover, I will be happy if you can be more careful about the content of your articles in the future. Such an act would result in legal action in the UK. Hopefully, you will take it as seriously as it would be taken in any forward-thinking country.

Moreover, I would like to kindly ask you, CM editors, and these fellow journalists to take action towards hate speech whether it is in the south or north of the island. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems we have in Cyprus is “casual racism” and “hate speech”, and unless we don’t fight it, and correct our behaviour, we will never be able to unite the island, neither nor will be able to call ourselves a progressive society.

Sefki Kolozali, via email

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