Limassol’s deputy mayor Nikos Sykas has issued a statement following widespread criticism over a post on Facebook when he self-identified as a racist.
Sykas, a former long-serving municipal councilor who was elected deputy mayor in 2016, caused a great deal of controversy on Tuesday after he wrote that he self-identified as a racist.
Hours later, the deputy mayor said his post “became a tool of misinformation about the real message” he had intended initially.
“Clearly, racism goes against human dignity. And therefore, there must be total respect towards diversity,” Sykas wrote.
“Just as we respect every migrant in our town, I demand the same level of respect towards any national symbol, values and traditions of my homeland,” Sykas said.
He then went on to speak against what he described as an “unprovoked clash” between migrants in Limassol’s seafront area as well as graffiti outside a local mosque, both relating to incidents earlier this week.
In his previous post hours earlier, which he has since taken down, the deputy mayor had written “racism is the impression being created, that all people are not the same.”
'Just as we respect every migrant in our town, I demand the same level of respect towards any national symbol, values and traditions of my homeland'
“I am a racist,” he then added in all capital letters, adding that he chose to self-identify as a racist because self-respect and equality had lost their meaning.
“The definition of a good host is tied to the behaviour of his guests,” Sykas also said in his original post, where he also attached a photo of foreign nationals attacking a person from India.
All comments and criticism came after Limassol made headlines, with stories including a group of Indian men attacking an Indian male in public and a local mosque being vandalized along with an anti-immigrant and anti-islam slogan spray-painted on the outer wall. Days ealier two youths were seriously injured in a brutal attack at a public square in front ot young witnesses and high school students.
But critics pounced on Sykas, saying the deputy mayor did not understand the concept of racism.
A film director, Adonis Florides, wrote an extensive response letter on Facebook, telling the deputy mayor that racism was not an impression but a concept that promoted race as biological and not as mere social construct.
Florides went on to say that immigration was a complicated and multifaceted issue that societies would need to address responsibly and humanely, while also adhering to international law.
“Obviously this is not easy, but there is no other reasonable alternative,” Florides said.
In his clarification statement, the deputy mayor said he wanted to reiterate his personal view that he was against any extreme acts no matter who are the perpetrators.
“This was the intended message in my [previous] post,” Sykaw wrote.
Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides told state radio on Wednesday morning that nobody on the city council, including the deputy mayor, had any racist views.