January 2009


 

 

The absolute majority (though somewhat dwindling) of the Maltese are Catholics. Some practice their religion to the letter, some just use it as a guide whole others consider themselves Catholic but do not really care. So far so good.

 

 

 

 

Obiously there are other religions in Malta. Islam and Judaism are also practiced in our island but the Catholic church finds no problem with those. Why? They are considered as ‘religions’ and the reason for that is that in the world they have a substantial amount of followers. And rightly so, religious authorities of these three religions moved ahead with tolerance and acceptance. A sweet example from a bitter experience was in the Simshar tragedy, where a burial of a Muslim and two Catholics was carried out in with authorities from both religons present. Many us don’t realise how much we should be grateful for this – unlike many countries, where even more religions that these three mentioned are practiced, we haven’t had a single episode of religios related violence since the Great Siege.

 

 

coexist

 

However, the Catholic church considers some religions as less equal, even as ‘bad’. They aren’t actually called religons by them but ‘sects’. Jehovah witnesses are the number one target. Before I learnt how to write I was already taught to be afraid of these people always ready to poison our minds. Many of our houses had a sticker at the entrance stating clearly that Jehovah witnesses and memebers of other ‘sects’ are not welcome. Nearly three decades later I was shocked and offended to read a pamphlet issued from the Catholic condemning Jehovah witnesses. I was shocked because I had thought that in nearly three decades the after effects of the inquisition had subsided. I was offended since I have friends who are Jehovah witnesses. I must admit that yes, many do start pestering so that you ‘convert’ to their religion. However, when I made it clear I hadn’t the slightest intention of converting or attending any meeting, they stopped and still respect me as I am. Some Catholics weren’t even able to do that.

 

 

What is the difference between a religion and a sect? In reality it’s only one thing: numbers. If there are hundreds of thousands, or millions of people around the world worshipping the same god/s as they know him/them, then that’s a religion. If they are small in number, they are a ‘sect’ a word which in itself brings to mind something bad, even diabolic.

 

 

It is not only the Catholic religion that does this. In Malasia members of a so called ‘sect’ called the Sky Kingdom were harassed by the Muslim majority. However, I confine to criticising the Catholic church, since in Malta, I’ve only seen this kind of bullying practiced by them, probably since they are the majority.

 

 

 

The Israeli – Palestinian conflict is probably one of the most complicated in modern history. There are many forces involved, the media, the stubbornness from both sides, religion, history and deep rooted hatred, and of course Hamas. The terrorist organization is probably harming Palestine more that Israel. First the suicide bombers they used to send, and now the rockets targeted at Israel have killed people, many of whom were civilians. That makes it unacceptable for people like myself, because though I see Palestinians as victims and Israel as the aggressor, I also give a lot of value to life. And the life of a civilian Israeli national killed in the conflict has no lesser value of that of a Palestinian.

 Hamas Logo

However, the worst thing Hamas is doing is that though the number of casualties is about 1% compared to those inflicted by Israel, they are giving the Israeli government, a lame but good excuse to keep carrying on with the aggression. Yes I do blame Hamas as one of the main components of this senseless war.

 

Yet, as much as I blame Hamas, I don’t blame the Palestinian people, even the ones whose vote went to the election of Hamas. Why?

 

The main reason is that it’s next to impossible for many Palestinians to view reality objectively like the majority of people outside the region, including myself could do.

 

One has to understand that Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. It provides Palestinians basic needs especially medicine and education, as well as food and housing. True they are complicating matters, and maybe if they weren’t there Gaza would not have been made an open prison. But the Palestinian civilian doesn’t have the opportunity to see from a bird’s eye view. He sees Hamas as the ones who taught his children to read and write, to bring medicine to heal much of the pain of his people, especially the pain inflicted from the Israeli aggressors.

 

This could be simplistically be explained when compared to the way we view politics in Malta. It happened many times that people switched vote from a Party to another, because the Party they used to trust didn’t give them what they felt they deserved, while the other Party did. In many circumstances it is about jobs. Now what Hamas are providing is even more essential than jobs. An unemployed Maltese person, can still go and get medicated for free in a polyclinic or a hospital. But what if the policlinics and hospitals lack medicines? And someone else, even someone evil such as an organization like Hamas is providing such necessary things?

 

By their tactics, Israel are making Hamas stronger then ever. Building a wall around Gaza depriving it from its needs was already one thing. Bombing Gaza added insult to injury. Yes, Hamas fighters did hide themselves around civilians, but that’s no excuse for Israel to bomb the place left right and centre, killing hundreds (till now) of civilians including children. Or worse still hitting even Red Cross aid workers and a school controlled by the UN.

 

 

 

First of all I’d like to congratulate our President in waiting George Abela. He deserves to be a President, and in my opinion this is a victory for the majority of people in this country.

 

The only thing I disliked was the fact that the PN and PL are making the most political mileage possible out of this. I’m also nearly sure that the reason he was chosen was that of personal interest of the two main parties. It was mostly a coincidence that this choice is beneficial for the country.

 

I believe this one of the reasons Abela was chosen was in terms of image for the main parties. It looks good that a blue government chooses a President coming from a red background. The PL also gained in terms of how they, especially their new leader are portrayed. Joseph Muscat, united the Party, which included making amends with Abela and bringing him back in the political sphere, then most of the Party voted for him.

 

However, the primary reason for this choice is technical, and I believe it favors the PN more. George Abela is a charismatic person, and one that is not blinded by the color of the Party he forms. When he felt he disagreed, he’s shown it, and even resigned. The effect of this is the fact that by next election, he would have definitely attracted the votes of floating voters, as well as those of people who otherwise would have voted AD, not voting at all, and even some who might have voted the PN. By becoming President he was out of the way.

 

Some PL MP’s also had to gain. Unlike what many people think, the majority of people contesting elections first priority is not that their Party is in government, but that they get elected themselves. If your Party is in government but you are not an MP, there is much less to gain. Thus, for people who might have been contesting in Abela’s same district, the no1 competitor is gone. Better still, gone with no hard feelings – he’s to become the President.

 

I don’t want to exclude the fact that probably there were MP’s from both sides who voted for George Abela for his assets as a human being, an honest person with a lot of integrity. However for me it’s hard to sink in that this was the main motive

I’ve written and spoken (newspapers, protest) a lot about the latest tragic situation in Palestine. It’s kind of easy and comfortable actually to sit behind a screen and talk about these children (and adults) being bombed without having essential things such as food and medicine. It makes you feel good, that you’re doing something. But do people like me really understand what it means?

 

Today I woke up with inflammated gums. It’s one of the most painful things I experience and can’t stand. I could barely eat. Luckily there are antibiotics, painkillers and liquid food. I can’t imagine living without such things.

 

Then I thought about the people in Gaza. Maybe a stupid thought, maybe not. What if I had inflammated gums there? Without the much needed medicine. Not without liquid food, but without food at all? How could hell be any worse? All of this combined with constant bullets and bombs; people losing parts of their body, without painkillers in an overcrowded hospital; children in pain looking for their parents who are either dead or in more severe physical pain then them. It’s painful even to think about it.

 

Talking about Palestine, I just want to make one thing clear. For showing solidarity with Palestinians some accused me of supporting Hamas. I don’t. I believe Hamas are one of the main reasons why peace cannot be found in the region.

 

So why do I talk about the Palestinians and not Jews? First of all, I have all sympathy for innocent Jewish civilians hit by rockets from Hamas. These are common people children, husbands, wives and parents of someone. What their government does is not their fault, yet they are still killed, and losing loved ones.

 

I empathise more with Palestinians because first of all they are being affected much more. For each Israeli killed in the conflict, a hundred Palestinians are killed.

 

Secondly, because before the retaliation (I’m not justifying it at all) by Hamas, the Israeli government closed Gaza with a wall, making it one big prison. The little food and medicine that reaches the place come from international aid worker organisations who have to struggle to be allowed getting these essential things in. Or there is another alternative – they are smuggled in by Hamas.

 

As much as I disapprove of Hamas, probably if I had my gums in such pain in Gaza, and they are the only ones who can help me getting medicated, my perception of them would be much different

Prostitution

 

Before I had watched yesterday’s program Xarabank, in which prostitution was discussed I believed it should be legalized. Now, I believe more strongly than ever that it should be legalized as soon as possible.

 

To make things clear, prostitution pre se is not illegal. Two people have the right to have sex even if one of them is doing it only for money. However, organised prostitution such as having a brothel isn’t.

 

During the program there were people who were pro-kegalisation, others pro but with reservations, as well as some anti-legalisation. Ironically these are the one’s that convinced me more how legalisation is so important.

 

One issue was loitering (which is illegal, but still practiced daily). Women hang out in the streets to attract cliends. Legal brothels would solve the problem. The other issue was (physical) health. By legalised prostitution monitoring for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) and Infections (STI’s) can be compulsory. (Having said that, nothing is foolproof and diseases might still be transmitted). Regarding physical health, legalisation helps protect prostitutes from clients who are sadistic or prone to violence.

 

However, what was mostly mentioned was mental health (of prostitutes). Prostitutes are much more prone to suffer from psychological disorders, especially severe depression. However does criminalising the act make thingss any better? I think it’s the other way round. (Once again, even if organised prostitution is legalised, many will still be prone to such psychological pain).

 

Who benefits most from leaving organised prostitution a criminal offence? The prostitute? No. The client? Neither. The stakeholders are the pimps. These are the one’s who will actually lose by legalisation.

 

Pimps don’t play by the rules. Their methods are intimidation, violence and corruption. These, especially the first two work best in illegal circles. If things are legal and controlled by the state, most of them become ‘unemployed’.

 

Finally there is another sector who will benefit from legalisation. We, the taxpayers.. Prostitutes consider what they do a job. I agree. But since my own job is legal, I am obliged to pay taxes. Prostitutes are considered as unemployes, don’t pay taxes and probably get unemployment allowance. If not by legalisation, how can the state insist on taxation?

 

One last thing, probably the most important. Those present in Xarabank who are pro-legalisation, stated they are not pro-prostitution itself when asked if they would like their daughter becoming a prostitute. I agree with them. They are not being hypocritical. Prostitution is unhealthy both physically and pschologically. It diminishes the dignity of both the prostitute and the client. There is no way I will condone it to anyone. If there is a person I respect contemplating choosing this life, I’ll be the first who tries to find her a more decent job.

 

I’m only in favour of legalisation. Protitution has been with us, is with us and will always be. It is considered as the oldest profession. Keeping it illegal just increases the damage done.

 

If a society wants to curb prostitution, focus must be on the causes, such as poverty, abuse and drug addiction.

I had neglected this blog for quite some time. Mainly because I was busy, which includes writing. I’m still into left wing green politics, but I’m taking a jab into fiction too, and I’m liking it.

However I felt the need to start writing here once again, especially due to ‘witnessing’ things I consider erratic. I want to excercise my freedom of expression the best way possible.

I appreciate people viewing my blog, better still commenting, even if one doesn’t agree with what I’m saying. Cheers