The Cabinet today authorized the Minister of Education to call on the Attorney General to drop disciplinary proceedings against public high school director George Gabriel.
a violation of the letter and the spirit of the regulations, which govern the behavior of the officials and the directors of education, was found
Though the ministers agreed that Gabriel had violated the code of conduct adhered to by officials and directors of the educational system, they felt his actions did not warrant punitive measures.
A statement from the President’s Office stated that at today's meeting of the Council of Ministers, the President of the Republic raised for discussion the issue that arose regarding the persecution of the Director of the High School, George Gabriel.
During the discussion, they added that a violation of the letter and the spirit of the regulations, which govern the behavior of the officials and the directors of education, was found.
Nevertheless, "in view of the fact that political forces and bodies of Letters and Arts considered that the freedom of artistic expression is persecuted, even if for a large portion of citizens it is a challenge and insult to institutions, the Council of Ministers authorized the Minister of Education, in order to avoid creating false impressions about the intentions of the Government, to address the Attorney General for the immediate termination of the disciplinary prosecution of the specific High School Director ".
The controversial artwork, which Mr. Gabriel uploaded to his personal Facebook page last year, was dubbed by the headmaster as ‘anti-systemic’ art, and drew mixed reactions. Some people expressed outrage over his critical approach to religious and historical figures of Cyprus such as Makarios and Grivas, while others took to his defence, praising his work as an example of the freedom of expression artists should enjoy.
He was called to appear before the Education Ministry’s disciplinary committee last October 6th and accused of failing to perform his duties as headmaster which would have been cause for dismissal.
The result was a public outcry from members of the public and from various political parties calling the actions of the government a suppression of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.