Video clip shot on Cyprus’ ghost town stirs debate
A video clip shot by a Turkish Cypriot singer in an abandoned town on the divided island of Cyprus has triggered anger among some Greek Cypriots, sparking controversy.
Nihayet Elibol, a 32-year-old Turkish Cypriot singer famous with her stage name Nini, shot a video clip for her latest song, Bulaman (You Can’t Find), in Varosha, an abandoned Cypriot town opened partially to visitors last year.
The shooting of the controversial clip was completed in the summer months, and it was published on Elibol’s YouTube account on Nov. 16 after final technical adjustments were made.
She further promoted the video to her 27,000 Twitter followers.
In the three-and-a-half-minute music video, a group of young people is seen dancing and singing on the golden beaches of the town and on the streets between the abandoned buildings.
Dilapidated homes, hotels and shattered storefronts are also seen as the group cycles along the refurbished roads.
Released the day after the 38th anniversary of the founding of Turkish Cyprus, the clip triggered anger among many Greek Cypriots and Greeks, with the pop artist receiving messages filled with insults and hate.
The reactions came after the song became a headline in Cyprus Mail, one of the leading Greek Cypriot news platforms.
Some Greek-speaking users on social media criticized the clip, saying it was in poor taste and that it shows a lack of respect for the sensitive nature of the town, which has become emblematic of the island’s division.
“Let the buildings fall on you, Cyprus is Greek,” were among the messages Elibol received in two days.
Known as “Varosha” in Greek and “Maraş” in Turkish, the ghost town was once the island’s top tourism destination but has been fenced off and empty since the 1974 military intervention.
On the contrary, the song and the video attracted the admiration of many Turks, a move to boost the morale of the Turkish Cypriot singer.
“I did not expect such a racist reaction from the Greek Cypriots. Varosha is a very beautiful and touristic place for shooting clips and movies,” Elibol said, adding that many Greeks also visited the area and that those who came were constantly taking photos and videos.
“I did not give a political message in my song, I just wanted Varosha to be known, and I did well,” she noted.
Elibol started her music career when she was just in secondary school and studied law and physiotherapy at Eastern Mediterranean University, which is a prominent school in the northern part of the island.
Known for her rap and reggae music, Elibol noted that “Bulaman” also has an Afro style.
Continuing her music career, Elibol gives concerts in Istanbul as well as Turkish Cyprus.