NICOSIA: The Cypriot church has gone into battle against "The Devil", denouncing the country's pick for this year's Eurovision Song Contest as glorifying Satan.
Dance number "El Diablo" - Spanish for the Devil - is the island nation's offering to the annual music contest for 2021.
Sung by Greek performer Elena Tsagrinou, it has already triggered an online petition for it to be pulled, signed by more than 16,500 people who believe it pays homage to the Devil.
"This is the glorification of a fatalistic submission and surrender to the powers of the devil," the Holy Synod, the ruling body of Cyprus's Greek Orthodox Church, said in a statement.
It called on the government to use its clout to get the song withdrawn.
Government officials said while it respected the views of those who disagreed with the song, pulling it was out of the question.
"The government fully respects creative intellectual and artistic freedom, that cannot be misinterpreted or limited because of a song’s title," presidential spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos said.
The number has already inspired some deep interpretations of the meaning of lyrics like "I fell in love .. I gave my heart to El Diablo", while comparing the relationship to spicy sauce.
The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation says the song is about the battle between good and evil and the struggles of a person under the spell of a scoundrel.
But some are unconvinced. Last week a caller to the station threatened to burn it down, while on Saturday a person broke into its grounds to complain.
(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)