An electric billboard in Kyrenia bearing the words “have shame and go” has caused controversy, with the ‘government’ even attempting to forcefully remove it.
The billboard had initially been placed at the Dr Fazil Kucuk roundabout, which forms the main motorway junction for those travelling into Kyrenia from Nicosia, by the Kyrenia municipality, with the aim of promoting the Girne Fest festival.
With the festival coming to an end, the words “have shame and go” first appeared on the billboard earlier this week.
The phrase in question had formed part of a recent campaign run by opposition political party CTP, urging the ‘government’ to resign.
As Kyrenia Mayor Murat Senkul belongs to the CTP, it was alleged that he had placed the message on the billboard and committed the transgression of using municipal funds and resources to do political campaigning.
However, he clarified on Tuesday that the CTP had paid the standard rate to buy the advertising space on the billboard.
“So long as there are no violations at this point and the fee is paid, any kind of announcements which are compatible with our ethical values can be made,” he said.
He added, “for example, tomorrow, [‘government’ party] the UBP may write something like ‘we are not going, bro’ on the same billboard, under the condition of paying the fee.”
Additionally, he said he had “removed his partisan badge on December 27, 2022” when he became Mayor and is now the “Mayor of all Kyrenians”.
However, the ‘government’ appeared less than convinced by his assertions, and on Thursday attempted to remove the billboard from its position.
A crane arrived at the scene, reportedly at the behest of ‘prime minister’ Unal Ustel and lifted the billboard out of the ground. However, municipal workers intervened and ensured the billboard was not removed.
Following the incident, Senkul said he was given no notice that workers would attempt to remove the billboard and added “the property belongs to us. They tried to lift the billboard out of the ground and dismantle it.”
“They are trying this method of bullying since the billboard is in an area belonging to the Highways authority and they are not allowed to do it,” he said.
He added that the Highways authority had not responded and that it was municipal teams who stepped in.
“We want it to be known that we condemn this action which is unworthy of the intelligence, serious, communication and respect in our state,” he said.
He added, “the billboard was not put there because the prime minister wanted it, and he will not make the decision as to whether it gets taken down either.”
“This country, this state, does not belong to any one single person, it belongs to all of us. If there is a problem, we think the way is to follow dialogue and not acting like medieval warlords,” he said.