by Yannis Ioannou
The image of a 43-year-old Cypriot man beating a woman of African descent with an infant in her arms is the definition of racist gender-based violence. The perpetrator is completely aware of what he is doing, because he hits the fallen woman with the child, fights with a man and returns to hit her again. He hits her because she is weak and black and according to the report's information because she asked for her money back for a car he sold her that was not in working order as he had claimed it to be.
The guy apparently had no qualms about selling the car to a family of immigrants or refugees, but when they complained about it being damaged he saw fit to shout "this is my country and I do what I want" and violently attack them. This type of violence is deemed a hate crime. If the same situation would involve Greek Cypriots, two things would happen, there would be an uproar against the act of violence perpetrated against a fellow Greek Cypriot. The perpetrator would likely be beaten up by other citizens or would be taken to court and made to pay for the hate crime.
The perpetrator, whom we all saw in the video, must be punished in an exemplary manner. Precisely because his act is obvious and intentional. He should be jailed and punished. Because if there is no justice here two things could happen: The next person kills a foreigner, and the next day one of these foreigners decides to recruit other foreigners into an organization that will protect themselves against racism in this country.
Racism and xenophobia in Cyprus have reasons to exist long before Cyprus became a destination for refugee flows or irregular immigration and long before Mr. Nouris failed with the management of immigration: It is a combination that concerns the experience of our problematic education, the historical imprint of chauvinism and racism (post-colonial in fact) and the psychological hetero-identification in relation to the trauma of the Turkish invasion and occupation. The Syrian and the African are the weak links of its manifestation not only because they are Muslim and black, but because they are also poor in addition to being Muslim and black. They are not like the Russians or Malaysian oligarchs or crooks who came here to become naturalized Cypriots.
In order to fight racism in Cyprus and not reach the point where a 43-year-old beats a mother with a baby in her arms or a serial killer murders the women who do the laundry for our parents, we need three things: Better education, better social reflexes and better legislative framework. The first will make us more tolerant and better people. Especially towards the different. The second will help isolate hate and its rhetoric from every manifestation of social life or community. And the third will lead by example in both satisfying the sense of justice and protecting the weak out there.
The 43-year-old in Larnaca is innocent until proven guilty. In the video, a woman holding a baby in her arms is brutally beaten. We all saw it and there can be no doubt about it. This bit about racism.
[This article was translated and edited from its Greek original]