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Is hate speech/racist-xenophobic discourse a wider, more 'mainstream', phenomenon in the political sphere?

Key Area:
Political Parties-organisations - Racist & Xenophobic Discourse
21/01/2012 - 16:05
Short Answer


Qualitative Info


There is a neo-racism connected to the rise of the Far Right  and discourses of hatred. Even though traditionally in Cyprus there was no typical far right / xenophobic populist or Neo-Nazi party, focusing for instance on anti-immigration populism or anti-Semitic politics, this is now beginning to change as these signifiers are regularly being articulated in the mainstream press and media. In the 2009 European Parliamentary elections, a neo-Nazi type of party called ELAM (the initials stand for ‘Ethniko Laiko Metopo’ which means National Popular Front) contested the elections and received 663 votes (0.22 percent); at the time it received no media coverage. The main discussion lines of ELAM produced the usual racist slogans contained in the Greek neo-Nazi and extreme Right papers and magazines, claiming that it is the only party that speaks for the “liberation of our enslaved lands, the ending of the privileges of the ‘greedy’ Turkish-Cypriots and for a Europe of Nations and traditions which belongs to the real Europeans and not to the ‘third-worldly’ [backward] illegal immigrants” ( In the national parliamentary elections of 2011 ELAM received 4,354 votes, scoring 1,08% of the votes, the largest percentage amongst the parties that did not elect an MP. This, in spite the general admission that ELAM is behind several racist attacks against unsuspecting migrants and Turkish Cypriots and taking place in public space under broad daylight. The recently emerging organised racist lobby, with an anti-immigration and xenophobic agenda, has found affiliates in many mainstream political parties and in media outlets. There is a number of publications and regular media discourses about the imminent and grave ‘dangers’ from ‘Afro-asiatic’, ‘Muslim-Asiatic’ and ‘Turko-asiatic’ hordes that are ready to invade Cyprus as part of a plan orchestrated by Turkey to change the demographic character of Cyprus through illegal immigration and leaflets with such content are also widely circulated by recently emerging far right groups. Studies have shown that there are regular media discourses employing the usual racist frames comparable to those of other EU countries  such as ethno-nationalistic, conflict-criminality, welfare-chauvinist, job-stealing, ‘threat to liberal norms’, biological racism  and national specific frames. Particular individuals within various political parties, including centre-right mainstream parties, various newly-formed committees for the ‘salvation of Cyprus’, as well as neo-Nazi groups argue that asylum-seekers, migrants and Turkish-Cypriots are abusing the Cypriot welfare benefit system ripping the “golden benefits” of “the Cypriot paradise”  and making Cypriots “second class citizens” (terms were used by the official of EVROKO  and former Senior Labour Officer in charge of Migration, A. Morfitis (2010) ‘Οι αλλοδαποί και οι ντόπιοι’ in H Σημερινή (23.07.2010);  C. Rotsas (2010) ‘Ο Μεγάλος Αυθέντης’, in  H Σημερινή  (23.07.2010)  They criticise the Minister of Interior for his ‘liberal’ migration policy (,0,837,166-) sometimes even going as far as labelling him as an agent who conspires to distort the population make-up and de-Hellenize Cyprus. Asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants are described as “invaders”, “a fifth column against the Greek element of free Cyprus”, claiming that “Hellenism is threatened from asylum-seekers as it is threatened by colonists/settlers in the Turkish occupied territories” (former DESY MP Christos Rotsas (2010) Ο Μεγάλος Αυθέντης”, H Σημερινή, 23.07.2010 Such discourses aired regularly by the media are creating a climate which is conducive to racial hatred. Such is the influence and power of the media that when the Equality Body embarked upon the drafting of a Code of Conduct on how ethnic communities and immigrants should be portrayed in the media, the result was a watered-down non-binding set of guidelines and an extensive explanation of why ‘freedom of the press’ should not be ‘interfered with’ (See for the Equality Body’s Guidelines for the Media in Greek and for an English summary).

Groups affected/interested Migrants, Refugees, Ethnic minorities, Asylum seekers
Type (R/D) Extremism - organised Racist Violence, Anti-migrant/xenophobia, Nationalism
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Employment - labour market, Health and social protection, Culture, Anti-racism
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