It was entirely appropriate that the biggest demonstration in a week when the black anniversaries of the coup and invasion were remembered was not against Turkey stealing Varosha but the COVID Safe Pass.
Erdogan came to town to lay claim to the ‘ghost town’, and the streets were almost empty.
When the banks stole our money in the financial crisis, we didn’t burn them down.
After Helios crashed and the Mari naval base exploded, governments did not fall.
But this government insists on a COVID pass to protect public health, and the rebellion begins.
Mass protest seemed to be a thing of the past for most Cypriots, with only the younger, more vibrant hooligan element prepared to take on the establishment to vent their frustration.
Even the anti-occupation rallies are waning in influence and participation, especially if they don’t fall on a school day.
Cypriots get frustrated and angry but rarely manifest their resentment in large numbers.
There is an element that wants to smash and burn everything while taking on the police.
Come to think of it, the police aren’t the greatest exponents of crowd control.
The last time the police tried to manage a large protest, it used a water cannon and tear gas on people that didn’t pose an immediate threat.
After the fallout from the anti-corruption rally earlier this year, the police appeared rather reluctant to get involved in last weekend’s anti-COVID demo.
Thousands turned up outside the Presidential Palace to make their feelings known — they were having nothing to do with the Safe Pass regime.
As the fourth wave of coronavirus is battering Cyprus, the government introduced the Safe Pass rule as a temporary measure to buy time in the vaccination race.
Having to carry around a passport as proof of vaccination, COVID recovery, or a negative test is an inconvenience, but so is living in a pandemic.
The pass is needed for indoor and outdoor facilities where more than 20 people can assemble apart from the beach, parks, pharmacies, bakeries, and kiosks.
Having to show a pass to go to the shops or get served is frustrating, but the measure is only until the end of July.
This government wants to avoid another national lockdown; it can only do that by encouraging or cajoling enough of the population to get jabbed.
Slowly but surely, Cyprus has done reasonably well to vaccinate 70% of the adult population with one jab.
It must get closer to 80% to shield society from more aggressive COVID variants to reach herd immunity.
That’s where the problem lies.
Among the remaining 30% is a hardcore of the unconvinced; they don’t see a pandemic or people dying – they see a con trick.
The COVID deniers and anti-vaxxers believe the public is being brainwashed by an elaborate hoax coordinated by multi-national corporations and greedy governments.
At a guess, I would say about 20% of COVID disbelievers would rather start WWIII than getting jabbed with a mind-control chip. That leaves the other 10% to work on.
In a democracy, the other point of view has to be respected.
People must be persuaded by the science and a sense of duty to keep them safe from the virus.
As in any other country, a sizeable section of society doesn’t care if it means their personal freedom is infringed upon.
They are not going to abstain, especially when they are convinced the pandemic is a ruse.
It is why TV station Sigma got attacked – it was seen as the standard-bearer for battling COVID-19 with vaccines.
So, the government can either bribe its way to herd immunity by offerings gifts to the young to get vaccinated or make it harder for the unvaccinated to go about their business.
No matter what you believe, the pandemic is happening to all of us; it is not selective about who it infects.
Right now, the war on coronavirus is about persuading that wavering 10% of dissenters to join the other side – the jab army fighting on the frontline.
Realistically the other 20% are a lost cause; they are overcome with conspiracy theories, paranoia, and delusion.
Freedom of choice is to be protected and cherished but not when it becomes the raw material for making COVID coffins.
COVID will strike whether you acknowledge it as the enemy or not.
And what will you tell the children when they ask: “What did you do in the pandemic wars?”