Song chosen to represent Cyprus for Eurovision accused of promoting devil worship
It is a moderately catchy tune with a distinct nod to Lady Gaga but the song that will represent Cyprus at the Eurovision song contest this week has sparked months of controversy amid claims that it encourages devil-worship.
The Orthodox Church of Cyprus, along with teachers unions and religious groups on the island, have complained that “El Diablo” is deeply blasphemous and promotes “surrender to the devil”.
The song, which will be performed by singer 26-year-old Elena Tsagrinou, features the lines “I gave my heart to el diablo, el diablo, because he tells me I’m his angel, his angel, tonight we’re gonna burn in the party.”
Neither the lyrics nor the mildly raunchy video that goes with it might seem particularly offensive to most people.
Songs that reference the devil are hardly new – Elvis had a hit in 1963 with You’re the Devil in Disguise and Britain’s mild-mannered Cliff Richard enjoyed worldwide success with Devil Woman, released in 1976.
But on Cyprus, theologians, Orthodox priests and some politicians have been left incensed, calling the song “a hymn to dark forces.”
The state broadcaster, CyBC, received threats that its headquarters in Nicosia would be set on fire and an online petition was launched, demanding the withdrawal of the song.
The petition said that “Cyprus’ participation in Eurovision with El Diablo is scandalous to us Christians.”
The Orthodox Church of Cyprus said the song made an “international mockery” of the country's morals and represented “the glorification of a fatalistic submission and surrender of Man to the power of the devil.”
A far-Right, ultra-nationalist political party, Elam, said the song should not be allowed to represent Cyprus at the contest.
“We want Europeans to know this beautiful island in the Mediterranean for its special characteristics and not its love for the devil,” the party said.
But Ms Tsagrinou, who was born in Athens, said the song had nothing to do with Satan and was simply about falling into a bad relationship.
“It’s not about the devil. At the end of the song, I get out of the relationship,” she told a website, wiwibloggs, which offers “Eurovision news with attitude”.
“It’s the angel and the devil inside us that talk too much in our heads and make us crazy. In the end, in this relationship between the devil and the angel, I am the winner.”
The state broadcaster stood by her, saying the entry had nothing whatsoever to do with the prince of darkness and was purely allegorical.
After first making her name at the age of 14 in the television show Greece’s Got Talent, she sang in a band before striking out on her own three years ago.
The controversy over El Diablo has ensured huge interest and the song has been viewed more than three million times since it was posted on YouTube in February.
Cyprus has had a fairly dismal record in past Eurovision competitions but this year it is being touted as one of the favourites, with the grand final to be held in Rotterdam on Saturday.