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.

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

 

 Being agnostic one might easily believe I’m glad about the decision by the EU to ban Crucifix from public places in Italy on grounds of human rights. This couldn’t be further than the truth.

The Crucifix never bothered me at all. For many in my country it symbolises Christianity. For me it symbolises a revolutionary who was tortured and murdered fighting injustice. Having said that, rather than a symbol it would have been better if those who hail it in my country (the majority) would actually follow his admirable steps, something only practiced by a minority.

Had the circumstances been different I wouldn’t have bothered it was removed either. But as things stands this decision was taken at the worst time in the worst country – fascist Italy.

I can already imagine Berlusconi’s face, together with those of his accomplices in the Northern League, beam at this decision. After offending the Catholic church by their explicit sexist and racist attitudes, Silvio Berlusconi now has the opportunity to appear as the ultimate saviour of Christianity. Forget the sex scandals, the corruption charges. One may easily also forget the criminal offences committed by people in his government, worst of which having an MP convicted of arson attacks on Romanian communities. Now these criminals are enraged against pagans (secularists) and are determined to save Christianity (its symbols actually, quite a different thing).

To add insult to injury an organisation responsible for more than a thousand murders in hundred years in the U.S, the Ku Klux Klan is taking a tangible form in Italy. Ironically this is an organisation that discriminated against Catholics in the past, especially Italian migrants in the U.S.

But the Italian Clansmen, targeting mainly migrants, Jews and homosexuals, are promising they will be good boys and obey the law. Yet, like the mother organisation, they want to keep their masks and hoods. Ironically the reason for this is because they fear to be discriminated against. Being the patriots they claim to be I find no reason they should fear discrimination, unless obviously they were lying when they stated they will be law abiding, just like the mother organisation in the U.S did.

 The European Human Rights Commission has committed a grave mistake in banning crucifixes in Italy. It only makes it easier for these elected and non electing criminals dupe well meaning Catholic citizens towards them, to the extent of apologising them because of fear that atheists, secularist, Jews an Muslims would take their crosses away.

Apart from that, the EHRC has also shown it has no sense of priority. The Italian government is committing serious human rights breaches, from abusing from data of its people up to sending back potential refugees to Libya (a country with no obligation for granting asylum to those who need it), some of whom will meet their death.

If the EU doesn’t control these serious human rights abuses, while allowing criminal organisations such as the KKK take form, the crucifixes would soon be replaced by Swastikas. And yes, that does bother me. Actually it scares me.