An online poll on Malta Today shows that some 67% of respondents agree with Joseph Muscat’s proposed push-back policy. It’s just a poll, not a scientific study, however it’s indicative of public sentiment. For the sake of this article, let’s assume that 67% of the Maltese agree with such policy.

One might argue that if the majority is behind Muscat, implementing push back (on which he himself is now backing off indicating he was only using it to threaten the EU) would be democratic.

Thankfully it doesn’t work that way. A majority, even confirmed by elections does not in itself make a democracy. For instance both Putin in Russia and Erdogan in Turkey, were elected with a majority yet both cannot claim to be democratic. The rampant breaches of human rights, especially the persecution of political opponents and journalists make any of these leaders’ claims to be democratic nothing more than a joke, even though they got a majority in the polls.

I remember reading a quote (unfortunately I forgot its author’s name) that depicts all this in a single sentence:

“Would it still be a democracy if 51% of the population voted for the right to kill the other 49% with impunity?”

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

This may sound extreme and hopefully no country will ever arrive in such a dire situation. However it makes a point very clear: Having the support of the majority is still undemocratic if the basic rights of minorities are not respected.

This argument holds true for push-back. For a simple reason. What Muscat proposed was not the deportation of failed asylum seekers (which is completely legitimate) but a deportation that would have been carried out before they even had a right to file for asylum. And asking for asylum is a fundamental human right.

And while I do find the majority on the issue as worrying, I also find them irrelevant. They could have been 90% and still, implementing push back before one even had the chance to ask for asylum would be not only illegal but undemocratic.

It would, among other things, have turned the Maltese government into a very serious human rights abuser that wouldn’t mind breaking my own rights if it’s politically convenient.

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According to Dr Chris Said, the cohabitation bill which overtly discriminates against same-sex couples and ignores crucial issues such as taxation, is “based on what the government believes is right and is acceptable to society.”

I beg to differ on the generalization about what is acceptable to society but for the sake of the argument, let’s say he’s right.

So? Does that make discrimination justifiable?

One of the very basics in human rights law and ethics is that minority rights should be respected irrespective of what the majority thinks, as long as fulfilling those rights doesn’t involve denying the rights to others.

It is definitely not the case here. Not-liking-gays-getting-married is NOT a human right. It’s bigotry.

If you’re afraid that same-sex couples getting married is going to affect your own marriage because “it weakens the institution of marriage” is such a twisted way of thinking that maybe you weren’t really suited for marriage in the first place. What the heck are you thinking, that your wife will leave you because Olga and Priscilla next door are going to tie the knot?

Same-sex marriage is about treating equals as equal. It doesn’t interfere on the rights of the majority in any way and those who oppose it are motivated by either bigotry or irrationality.

Needless to say, the PL were quick to point fingers at Chris Said accusing him of “homophobia”. Ironically, Joseph Muscat has already stated clearly he believes marriage is for people of the opposite sex only. In other words he doesn’t consider gay couples as equal either.

Introducing same-sex marriage isn’t just about LGBT rights. It’s also a reflection on whether our government (and opposition) really believe in equality in diversity or whether they consider it as just a slogan.


“Jekk ghandek bzonni hawn utilizzani bl-ahjar mod. Dan Jista jsir permezz ta’ tip offs ghal investigazzjonijiet ghall-istejjer.
Imma jien ukoll ghandi bzonn l-ghajnuna tieghek biex in-nies jibew ukoll isiru jafuni”
Sabrina Agius

PL leader Joseph Muscat is alleging that either his computer or that of RTK journalist Sabrina Agius had been hacked and calling this an “erosion of democracy”.

Needless to say, the PN – by far the superior party when it comes to spin – are denying this categorically. I don’t trust them. Definitely not after the dirty tactics they used on Harry Vassallo before last elections. One thing is more than clear – hacking or not, there is some kind of foul play.

Obviously, this doesn’t by any means exculpate Dr Muscat from using Sabrina Aguis as a mole in RTK and instigating her to join more popular arenas such as the Times or PBS – so that he can “use her” further.

This behavior is shameful and downright disgusting. Yet, both parties are using the same tactic: “Whatever it is, the other party is worse

As if I care!

I had been sympathizing with Alternattiva Demokratika years before I joined the party. While my main motives for this were anger for the rape of our countryside and thirst for social justice, there was something else.

I was fed up of hearing of scandal after scandal (hard evidence or not) and allegations of corruption and nepotism justified by the claim that “the other party is worse”. Worse still, these justifications were not coming from party officials, but sympathizers who were themselves being victims of the corruption (aside from those who had a finger or two in the pie).

Not only didn’t these justifications satisfy me. They made me angrier. They still do, when I see, as an example out of many, having a land speculator admitting he donates money to both parties equally. Something that doesn’t create much public outrage since both parties and their apologists had a muzzle around their mouths.

I joined the Greens while former leader Dr Harry Vassallo was using the slogan “A new way of doing politics”. As time went by, I became more and more involved in the party, not only because of embracing the “Green” ideology practiced by AD and the European Greens but also because I really believe in the need of a new way of doing politics.

A new way where amongst other things a political party’s main strength wouldn’t be the weakness of the opposing party.

The threat of right wing extremism in Europe has been lurking for a couple of decades by now. Yet, most mainstream politicians started regarding this as a problem only when extremist parties managed to get a significant number of votes. It seems the hate crimes such organizations and sympathizers have been committing weren’t of real concern. The fact that except for gays and some European Muslims, the victims of these crimes don’t have the right to vote, probably contributes to this indifference.

 

What is now concerning most politicians (except for losing votes to the extreme right) is that most of these movements and parties have a total aversion towards democracy. Some of them have made it clear, while others were more subtle, that they want authoritarian rule, in some cases even military.

 

Probably even a large number of their voters oppose this, however their trump card of hatred against minorities and the present elite is enough to lure people who would otherwise preferred more democratic parties.

 

Possibly, leaders and members of these parties are not violent people themselves. However, they way they conduct their campaigns can (and do) incite people to harass minorities. This advert is a case in point:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYavOiI-8uY

 

 

What happened in Oslo however, has changed the whole scenario, or at least, should change it. This time it’s not ethnic, religious or sexual minorities who happen to be the victims but the Norwegian man in the street. Common people who just happen not to discriminate against minorities and embrace a politics that doesn’t. The traitors. (In fact the word “traitor” features in any extreme-right literature I’ve encountered).

 

What can stop this madness? The extreme right themselves (who have distanced themselves from Breivic for obvious PR reasons) still blame multiculturalism. Something which as I argued in other blogs, can’t be reversed.

 

Freaks come in all colours. As with other kinds of terror, there is no fool-proof way to prevent right wing terrorism. But I may have some suggestions:

 

Close monitoring but not censorship. Apart from disagreeing with censorship in principle, it doesn’t work anyway. In many cases it has been used by these extreme right to play the victims and is a good excuse not to appear on mainstream media. The place where other mainstream politicians are asked the hardest questions, and are expected to answer them (Avoiding the media using this excuse was one of the main tactics elected far-right politician Geerth Wilders used in the Netherlands).

 

In the Maltese scenario, this monitoring must include amongst others our home grown extremists whose website www.vivamalta.org also talks clearly about taking revenge on the traitors.

 

Secondly, mainstream parties must stop using some of the extremists language with the hope of attracting the vote of some of their followers. Appeasement doesn’t work. It may weaken them temporarily by making their politicians lose votes but in the slightly longer term it only makes them stronger by legitimizing their claims. Appeasement has already been tried with their main icon Adolf Hitler – and everyone knows what happened next.

 

Thirdly, and probably most important, leftist parties all over Europe, definitely including Malta’s shall become once again true workers parties. Research shows clearly that extreme right politicians attract mainly the working class. It’s crucial to not that these extremists don’t consider themselves only as anti-minority groups. They are also anti-establishment. And if the present establishment is failing them (especially in terms of employment, housing and finance related issues), the lure of the extreme right just becomes more tempting.

 

Finally, all mainstream parties should completely distance themselves from these extremist movements. While this has been the case in Malta (Joseph Muscat categorically distanced himself when misinterpreted by Norman Lowell), not all politicians in other counties behave as such. Probably most notorious is Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi who didn’t shy away from forming a coalition with Lega Nord. A party that has lately become a serious embarrassment after outspoken MEP Mario Borghezio came out justifying the terror in Norway:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw76a4eVp5M