A man has been charged by police in Cyprus after barging onto the grounds of the public broadcaster to protest what he said was the country’s “blasphemous” entry into this year’s Eurovision song contest.
He was released after being hit with four charges over the incident, including being verbally abusive and causing a disturbance, police say.
The man was apparently upset that the broadcaster had selected the song El Diablo (The Devil) performed by Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou to represent Cyprus, since he said it was as an affront to Christianity.
Witnesses said the man verbally accosted employees outside the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation’s news department on Saturday.
Amateur video showed the man confronting CyBC staff, screaming at a number of employees in the yard and asking how they could justify supporting such a song.
The title of El Diablo” as well as it’s lyrics – “I gave my heart to el diablo…because he tells me I’m his angel” – have touched a raw nerve with some in the Mediterranean island nation, who consider it to be fraught with Satanic connotations.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, an association representing theologians who teach in high schools expressed their “disgust” over the song and called for it to be withdrawn because it “pledges life-long devotion and professes love for Satan”.
The agency also reported the broadcaster received threatening phone calls that “it would be burned down” because of the song.
The far-right ELAM political party issued a statement saying even if the song’s lyrics are metaphorical, it “attacks and insults our faith in a shadowy way”.
Others took to social media to defend El Diablo, saying it was simply a ditty about a “scorching love affair” or labelling its detractors religious zealots.
Cyprus’ best-ever showing in the popular music competition was as runner-up in 2018 with the song El Fuego by singer Eleni Foureira.
The annual Eurovision contest is a beloved European institution watched by millions that often involves songs that are controversial, in questionable taste or just plain bad.