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Cyprous: Naked Aphrodite In the News

Cypriot diplomats are furious with the interior ministry for failing to consult with the foreign ministry before issuing passports with a depiction of a naked immortal that might offend conservative foreign cultures.
Local press reports yesterday said the sketch of a nude Aphrodite on Cypriot biometric passports may offend authorities in Islamic countries and cause problems for the new passport holders, prompting Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis yesterday to downplay the concerns.
According to an article in Phileleftheros, diplomats have expressed reservations and fears as to the reactions that may be provoked by the sketch of the naked goddess.
“They are worried that civilians and diplomats could get into trouble, particularly travelling to very conservative Islamic countries,” the daily claimed.
The Interior Ministry said it was too late to change the passports.
Sylikiotis commented that he did not share the Foreign Ministry’s concerns on this issue.
“There is no problem whatsoever, the biometric passports have already been issued and are being used by citizens,” he said.
And the Interior Ministry’s permanent secretary Lazaros Savvides likewise said that “up until now no one has said that they have had a problem, be they a diplomat or Cypriot citizen.”
Savvides mentioned also that the sketch is one of many in the passport that symbolise the island, also citing the mouflon among the symbols used.
Nevertheless, he pledged that the Interior Ministry would look further into the matter next week to determine whether diplomats’ concerns were founded.
Local legend says Aphrodite (also known as Venus to the ancient Romans) emerged from the sea on a crest of foam just off the Mediterranean island.
The image on the new biometric passports is modeled on a Greek marble statue of a completely naked Aphrodite in the Cyprus Museum located in the capital Nicosia.

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