Art for art’s sake

6 mins read

By any metric, there is a stench of intolerance wafting through Cyprus that stubbornly believes the new millennium never happened on these shores.

The same intractable mindset that has deepened political division on the island permeates the establishment and our backwards-looking education system.

In moments of weakness, the government portrays Cyprus as a beacon of democratic thinking, liberal idealism, diversity champion and a doing business paradise.

President Anastasiades enjoys rubbing shoulders with European leaders in the delusional belief that Cyprus is a paradigm of innovation, research, and critical thought.

He likes to take initiatives on climate change, stability in the Middle East and proclaim to be a reformist of the justice system, education, and the crusader for e-government.

Then there’s the friendly-face of business, the one-stop where bureaucracy doesn’t exist in this international hub of financial transactions.

The stark reality is that if you are wealthy enough to buy a selection of officials and politicians, that application might get processed, but you’ll have more chance than an asylum seeker.

Cyprus likes to wear its nationalism on its sleeve by pretending that patriotism is the giver of all things good.

Cyprus has become a less tolerant society when its policies are challenged or scrutinised like many parts of Europe.

Things have gotten so bad that public apathy allows politicians to behave in a despotic fashion where criticism is shouted down, and the need for a logical explanation is dismissed as nonsense.

Transparency is only to be wrapped around sandwiches; evading the truth is paramount, while a non-critical media encourages buffoonery to be the diet of political discourse.

Public scrutiny is reduced to who shouts the loudest for the longest when the government has tripped up on another banana skin but pretended it wasn’t there.

With a disillusioned society, pliable media, and a high tolerance level for the absurd, the elite will always win and cover its tracks when it doesn’t.

This apathy also nurtures a breeding ground for officials to negate responsibility, tell whopping lies and generally rule the manor where they are the masters, and we are their deferential servants.

And how dare the servants raise their tone to the master of the house (binge-watching Downton Abbey is beginning to affect me).

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou seems to believe there are more important things to do than improving schools and teaching standards.

He has taken it upon himself to defend our morality while investigating bookgate – which he had nothing to do with, obviously.

His zeal to get a headteacher sacked for his art backfired after the Cabinet bowed to public pressure.

The irreverent artist who enjoys lambasting the establishment with unflattering portraits of the Archbishop and the President was to face a disciplinary firing squad.

Unable to get the headteacher thrown into the tower, the minister was determined he lose his job before a committee of his peers.

A civil service disciplinary committee is like an interrogation by the Spanish Inquisition with tortuous stares a substitute for being placed on the rack until your limbs snap.

Even the Attorney General was called in, but he quickly sniffed the madness in the air and dropped the issue faster than a COVID jab.

Although the Cabinet agreed the teacher had broken some ethical code, it didn’t want to be compared to the Taliban censorship police, although they were sailing close to the edge.

Prodromou has difficulty understanding the concept of free expression if it is not contained in a government-approved textbook.

After all, his ministry sent out the clarion call for teachers to tear the page out of an English language school workbook because of a positive reference to Kemal Ataturk.

He blamed ‘leftists’ for kicking up a stink about the book that was eventually removed to preserve everyone’s blushes.

It gave the censorship gurus at the Turkish Foreign Ministry the golden opportunity to blast the Greek Cypriots as bigots and Turkey haters.

Painting the government as Nazi book burners wasn’t a good look for ultra-democratic and super-European tolerant Cyprus.

President Anastasiades summoned his loose cannon minister to the Palace this week to discuss how bookgate became a bestseller on the intolerance index.

Not to worry, the minister is going to investigate what went wrong personally.

It promises to be a long and thorough examination of the facts with no stone unturned searching for the truth.

The ‘page rip’ order via email was supposedly sent from the minister’s office with the official’s name on it.

So, rest assured, this will be buried deeper than a submerged nuclear submarine.