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Don’t shoot the messenger

Paphos notes by Lucie Robson

An interesting thing one of my friends said to me was that, during her years in England, she enjoyed the freedom in the fact that anyone could start or be anything. You could lead a Protection of the Hedgehog Group or be the president of the Anti-Royal Family Association. Whatever you chose, you would be left alone in peace to get on with it and sink or swim. Hailing from Scandinavia, which she described as being somewhat regulated and conservative, she said she found the live-and-let-live attitude in England liberating.

Another friend, from Australia, has told me that, for several years she has found the UK government to be increasingly sinister and dystopic.

Coming originally from Britain, while I find the first opinion flattering and the second nothing to be proud of, I accept each have truth in them and respect them both. Why? Because they are from people with life experience in general and experience of living in the UK in particular. I think they have earned their right to a point of view.

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The reason I bring this up now is I am wondering what gives someone this right to have and voice an unfavourable point of view, like the latter, about Aphrodite’s Isle.

For some time now, I have noticed a sort of opinion apartheid in Cyprus. It’s like if you aren’t local, you aren’t permitted to express a poor opinion about anything on the island or, if you do, you must jump through hoops to explain any entitlement to do so. And if you do so, you run the risk of getting it in the neck.

A Cypriot voicing an unsavoury opinion about local life is just expressing a point of view. A non-Cypriot doing the same thing is ‘slagging the country off’ (and reminded, by the way, that life is no better in London or Paris or Amsterdam and why don’t you look in your own back yard before criticizing another country and, if you hate it here so much, why don’t you leave?

Hey buddy – all I said was that some Paphos roads could do with better asphalt, one protests.

Ironically, I find it is often non-Cypriots who take this stance with other non-Cypriots. They cast themselves as goody-two-shoes defenders of the island (as if any help has been asked for) and allegorically try to smother you with their self-donned superhero cloak, no doubt telling themselves that they’re making the world a ‘smilier’ place.

I know this ‘tit-for-tat’ behaviour is not just local. This schoolyard model of defensiveness and resentment could be transplanted anywhere.

My name is unlikely to ever end in ‘poulou’, ‘ides’ or ‘ou’ but does that mean I am meant to keep my mouth zipped in the country where I live and pay my dues? Just what criteria is someone obliged to fulfill before they can express a less-than-flattering view about an aspect of life in an adopted country – without being offered a lift to Paphos airport?

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One comment

  1. No, you can say what you want but then anybody hearing you is entitled to view you as they think fit.
    i do not know what the situation is now in the UK but in the past the response to Cypriots and other foreigners was often if you do not like it you can always go home. Writing in a newspaper you are perhaps in a difficult situation.