1,2,3
Arriva Pinochet
4,5,6
A morte gli Ebrei
789
Il negro non commuove
Seig Heil
Apartheid

What makes this ‘slogan’ worrying is the fact that it wasn’t sung by a couple of disoriented teenagers. It was sung by police, the ‘forze del ordine’ of what many consider a democratic country – Italy. These words were chanted while the Police were beating people (the absolute majority of whom were non-violent) who protested against the G8 summit in Italy, July 2001.

More than 300,000 people turned up to protest against the way eight countries were deciding the fate of the world between the 20th and 22nh July 2001 in Genova. They came from various groups and organisations, Catholics, Greens, pacifists, leftists and human rights activists. None of them had any violent intentions except for a small group of 500, the black bloc. With whom the latter were affiliated is still a mistery. The reason for this is chilling in itself, since after the riots, after the police brutality and murder of Carlo Guiliani, out of the 250 people arrested there was not a single ‘black bloc’ member.

Different movements demonstrated in different streets. The 500 black bloc divided themselves and infiltrated all the groups. They went, created a riot and vanished in a couple of minutes. Yet, after they left the violence continued, In many circumstances, especially regarding Catholic movements, the protestors did not offer any resistance, yet they were savagely beaten by the Italian police.

Some other movements retaliated to this abuse. One of them was Carlo Giuliani’s movement, Carlo being the only fatality in the whole episode (towards which two police officers were intercepted saying ‘uno a zero per noi’). Giuliani’s group believed in passive resistance. They were considered as ‘disobedient’ but not violent. At least not before the police started assaulting them with tear gas, beating them and chanting slogans like the one mentioned above.

Yet, there was more to come. Groups of demonstrators rested (with permission) in schools, most notably Scuola Diaz. The police infiltrated the schools and beat the shit out of them, not only the demonstrators but also journalists and medics who happened to be there. Not a single person of them was black bloc.

There is still speculation who the black bloc really were. Some think they were infiltrated within the police, others claim they are neo-fascists with the deliberate intention of disrupting the protests. Others believe they were just hooligans. Whoever they were is not really important now. What is very significant though, is the fact, that when these people committed illegalities, even before the riots started (including destroying the pavement and collecting large stones as ammunition) the ‘forze dell ordine’ did absolutely nothing.

Such repression is expected (though never justified) in countries where there is a dictatorship or a brutal regime in power such as Iran, China or Myanmar. However it is extremely disturbing that all this happened in a so called democratic European country only nine years ago. It is also worth mentioning that Italy is under the same Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, in the present day.

The attacks on democracy on July 2001 should never be forgotten, definitely not in the near future. They are a reminder that even in a European democracy a government can use an iron fist on civilians just exercising their fundamental rights of assembly and expression.

The only good thing that could come out of this tragedy is learning from it.

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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.

Needing Stitches

While I’m passionate towards music and literature, I try to appreciate different types of art, including drama even if not so passionate about it. Thus, hadn’t there been this hype about the ‘shocking’ play ‘Stitches’ I’d maybe have been interested in watching it, maybe not.

However now I feel I need to watch it, or at least read the script, preferably both. I want to know what the fuss is about, not only for the sake of curiosity but in order to have a basis to form an opinion about the censorship of the play. With the information I have from newspapers, articles, TV programmes etc, I can say censoring it is just ridiculous. However, I can’t give the benefit of the doubt to those opposing it since it is them that are not allowing me, an adult to watch it.

I’m not absolutely against censorship, but the things I’d like to censor are of a completely different quality and for a completely different.

One of the reasons I find something eligible for censoring is promoting discrimination and racial hatred. A book published from the church’s press demonising homosexuals, which Dr Patrick Attard is opposing, would without a single doubt fall into this category.

Back to Stitches a reference to promoting racial hatred could be the mentioned fact that a particular character masturbates while watching women entering gas chambers. The issue here is not how shocking it is or not. That’s up to us adults to decide that. The issue is: is this condoned? Does Stitching promote Jewish people being sent to death as good fodder for sexual fantasies? If that was the case, I would regard it as inciting racial hatred. However I don’t think it is.

I don’t want to pester the producers but since the conservatives denied me the right to watch or read it I have to go to them to give me the answers.

One of the reasons I believe that racial hatred or promotion of criminal offences is not an issue is the fact that when one wants to pass such a message, it is not presented in a shocking way.

Human rights activists have opposed series programs such as Prison Break, Lost and 24 because they promote torture albeit in a subtle way. Since it is the ‘good ones’ using it, for the beneficial service of getting rid of crime, the subtle message is ‘TORTURE MIGHT BE JUSTIFIED IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES’ I definitely would not tolerate that.

On the other hand, the passion of Christ, from films, to statues, to paegants and books is a whole episode of blatant torture. Yet I don’t fight it slightly offensive. Torture is condemned, Christ is the hero not those torturing him.

Those condemning the play just quoted parts of the play in isolation, not context. It makes all the difference. Do they know that in the Bible there are these words written ‘There is no God’. Don’t they believe me? Go and check for yourself. What they will find is these exact words ‘There is not God’, however these are followed by the words ‘said the fool’. Makes a little difference doesn’t it?