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Society

Songbird-Eating Cypriot MP Ripped

A Cypriot lawmaker who posted a photo on Facebook as he was about to eat a protected songbird said critics are hypocrites and he won’t obey the law.

Evgenios Chamboulas of the ruling DISY party said he loves the local dish called Ambelopoulia even though it’s unlawful to trap, kill or sell – but not eat – the birds. Ironically, he’s on the House Agricultural Committee.

He immediately cam under attack on social media, especially from environmentalists who want the bird protected and have blasted Cyprus for its practice of killing them by the millions. Some said he should be arrested and prosecuted.

 

“The popular local tradition of ambelopoulia suddenly became illegal in 2013 and this I find a total hypocrisy especially since many are fond of this tradition including myself,” he told state radio on Dec. 15.

“The state has the right to contest this 2013 ruling from the EU just like many other countries have already done with other similar hunting rulings like Malta and the UK. We should do the same and the government should listen to the calls of the people. I condemn this theater of hypocrisy.”

When asked how he had come into possession of the birds and whether he feels he will face criminal action, he replied, “If only I had the time to enjoy my favourite pass (sic) times which are hunting and fishing,” in-Cyprus reported.

“But I can honestly say to those who care about me that they shouldn’t worry for me if I was to be the subject of any enquiry. If this matter becomes a legal one, then I can thank God that I have good lawyers.”

He referred to quotes by the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (also an American Founding Father) by saying, “Jefferson once said ‘If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.’ I stand by this.”

The Director of BirdLife Cyprus, Clairie Papazoglou, told the state radio that many Cypriots disregard the law because they love eating the birds. She said Chamboulas had no right to flaunt the law.

But Paralimni Mayor Theodoros Pyrillis said he wouldn’t condemn the act and dismissed claims that his town had a rife illegal ambelopoulia trade.

“We do have an issue of people acting at their own accord to collect ambelopoulia,” confirmed Pyrillis whose town falls under the constituency of Chamboulas’ Famagusta district.

 

The head of the Animal Party Cyprus (APC), Kyriakos Kyriakou, said his party would be requesting to see Attorney General Costas Clerides and question whether the actions of Chamboulas warrant a criminal investigation.

Enforcement of the songbird ban is lax on Cyprus and many restaurants ignore the law, as do customers, despite an international outcry.

More than 2,418,000 birds across the whole of Cyprus are estimated to have been killed during 2010. According to a Birdlife Cyprus report to be released in early 2014, over 1.5 million migrating songbirds are killed annually, and the number is increasing each year.

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