NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – A man was charged with threatening and causing disturbances after storming the grounds of Cyprus’s public broadcaster to protest what he said was the country’s “blasphemous” entry into the competition. This year’s Eurovision songs, police said Sunday.
Police told The Associated Press that the man, who has not been identified, was released after being charged with four counts, including verbal abuse.
Police said witnesses to Saturday’s incident told investigators that the man verbally addressed employees outside the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation news department. Apparently he was upset that the station had selected the song “El Diablo” (“The Devil”) performed by Greek singer Elena Tsagrinou to represent Cyprus, as he said it was an affront to Christianity.
An amateur video of the man confronting CyBC staff showed him yelling at various employees in the yard, asking how they could justify their support for such a song.
The title of “El Diablo”, as well as its lyrics – “I gave my heart to the devil … because he tells me that I am his angel” – have touched a raw nerve with some in the island nation of the eastern Mediterranean, who consider it full of satanic overtones.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, an association representing theologians who teach in secondary schools expressed “dislike” for the song and called for it to be withdrawn because it “promises lifelong devotion and professes love for Satan.”
The agency also reported that the station received threatening phone calls that it would “catch fire” because of the song.
The far-right political party ELAM issued a statement saying that even if the song’s lyrics are metaphorical, it “attacks and insults our faith in a dark way.”
Others, meanwhile, took to social media to mock “El Diablo” as a good song, defend it as a simple ditty about a “scorching love story” or to label its detractors as religious fanatics.
Cyprus’ best performance in the popular music competition was as runner-up in 2018 with the song “El Fuego” by singer Eleni Foureira.
The annual Eurovision Song Contest is a beloved European institution watched by millions of people, often featuring controversial songs, questionable or just plain bad.