Regularly, on newspapers published in Malta you see some letter about one of these two subjects:

1) How Islam has degraded the UK, how evil it is, and that we should not forget what’s happening in Iran

2) How much Catholic values are neglected and the ‘harm’ this has having on (Maltese) society.

For the first, the implied recommendation to beware of Islam. For the second, an urge to make pressure on local politicians to show their Catholic traits. Some go to the extent of using their vote for MEP elections as a threat towards candidates who do not conform 100% to their Catholic beliefs.

Following current international affairs, it is obvious that what some powerful Muslims in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia are doing is disgusting, transforming these otherwise beautiful countries in a hell on earth. The obsession on political correctness in some regions in the UK, such as removing crucifixes is not something enviable (though this is taken out of proportion, in that it is only practiced in some local regions, UK law was never changed). However, what many fail to realise are that first of all we are using two weights for two measures. We condemn Muslims bullying their religion on the state or politicians while accept, if not condone Catholics doing the same thing. We hailed a Danish cartoonist ridiculing prophet Muhammed as a freedom of speech icon, yet proceeded criminally against a person who dressed as Jesus Christ in Carnival. Doesn’t anyone sense a bit of hypocrisy here?

Secondly, speaking about our country – Malta, let’s face it and be honest, there is no Muslim threat. The Muslim community in Malta has never made any implicit or explicit threats calling Maltese society to appease them. The just cherish their freedom of worship (always as long as Maltese laws are not breached) and stop there.

On the other hand, people who like me are agnostics or atheists, face subtle discrimination from Catholic churches’ imposition. Crucifixes in schools or places of work had never bothered me before. Now, they are beginning to do so. I’m seeing them as a threat to our supposedly secular society. They are a symbol of the limitations on our freedom of expression, or of the so called ‘invisible hand of the church’. They signify a curriculum of religious studies that does not teach religion to our kids, but just the Catholic faith. Such symbols signify the oppression on some of my friends who have different sexual orientation who have a right to be different unless they do not put in practice their differences. They justify the cruel stare I sometimes receive when I say I don’t believe in God, the prejudice that I have no morality, which is far from the truth.

 I’ve got nothing against the crucifix itself. Far from that. Jesus was a progressive revolutionary in his time, maybe even too progressive for our times 2000 years later. As has happened to people like him along world’s history, and is unfortunately still happening today, he was tortured and murdered for his beliefs. What bothers me is what such a symbol has come to represent. Together with the injustice towards Muslims in Malta who are somewhat made to blame for removal of crucifixes in some places in the UK when they have never made such demands.

I’m not afraid of Muslims at all, at least in my country (I can’t imagine myself living in Iran let’s face it – yes we are better off in this respect). However sometimes I askel: Is inquisition really over in our small country, or have we just eliminated the most sinister parts such as physical harm and imprisonment, but let the psychological abuse carry on.