Sorry not sorry

Corruption is detrimental to democracy and to society but it has been the ticket to win an election for so long that whether it is ‘Tagħna lkoll’ or the more recent ‘Forza Nazzjonali’, does not matter anymore

'If most of the students at the debate thought that any leader won in any way, they’re wrong.'

‘If most of the students at the debate thought that any leader won in any way, they’re wrong.’

by Sara Ezabe

It is no secret that one of the most controversial parties contesting with a candidate on each district is ‘Moviment Patrijotti Maltin’. Still baffled how a group known best for its ‘Ħobz bil-Perżut’ on a Sunday morning and their call for a referendum on Integration, made it to a University debate.

Surprisingly the debate didn’t live up to the expectations of a very constructive one. Especially because it failed to reflect a critical audience asking erudite questions. Instead most students prepared questions to score political points with their respective political parties.

The functioning of a democracy should permeate beyond political parties and their youth spin-offs filling the hall with students cheering their statements. The two main parties used most of their time either to prove that they are innocent or that they are completely revamped instead of addressing issues that really matter.

Obviously, corruption is detrimental to democracy and to society but it has been the ticket to win an election for so long that whether it is ‘Tagħna lkoll’ or more recent ‘Forza Nazzjonali’ does not matter anymore, because this goes beyond what any political party can set right.

Isn’t it worrying that a far-right party is raising its head? Henry Battistino’s apology: “Sorry I’m not a skinhead with big tattoos and a Swastika.” Saying that the party is often labelled as far right but he’s just a “hard-working nannu” who wants to “preserve Malta’s traditional Catholic values,” is anything but a charming opening statement. It speaks volumes about the failure of all political parties to address the rights of minorities in our country.

I do recognise that once again, Malta placed first in Europe in relation to civil liberties  for LGBTIQ, and whilst that is something to extol, it should not blind us from seeing that there are other minorities in our community which are being neglected. Introducing Islam in schools is not to be included under this category of civil liberties, because that would draw a tangent to this.

It is offensive to say the least, that none of the parties used their time to rebut the arguments put forward by the MPM leader. Firstly, because they were too busy picking on each other, secondly because he was talking about foreigners and most worrying perhaps because we tend to be too positive and believe it is the very few who share these thoughts.

I speak for the voiceless here, if we are really yearning unity as one nation, then we should not undermine the contribution of foreigners. It is very discouraging that students were not as assertive to this divisiveness as much as they were to corruption claims. Undermining these statements risks normalising and tolerating them.

The leader of this hate-spreading group specifically commented on hate spread by Labour and Nationalists. This is very confusing coming from a group which started on Facebook bullying all those who stand for minorities and immigrants. As much as he apologised for not being a skinhead or having big tattoos and not having a Swastika, he remains nothing more than a leader of a far right party.

Big tattoos do not make you racist. Islamophobia and a far-rightist, hateful speech towards minorities and immigrants do. It is all about the underling stereotypes and misinformation which is spread, starting from the fact that being a hard-working ‘nannu’ excluded him from being a close minded xenophobe, which he is. Prof. Arnold Cassola should have carried some photos with him of all the different racists, maybe it would have helped make the situation clearer.

Catholic values are not an excuse for these statements and here the other leaders should intervened, if they really consider themselves Catholic or people who really stand for unity and peace. Is it too much to hope that they would insist that intolerance and hatred are not Catholic values as much as they assert that corruption has no place in a democracy.

If most of the students at the debate thought that any leader won in any way, they’re wrong.

Everyone lost – including Malta.

There is much more to a democracy than standing against corruption, emphasising how good the economy is and joining those who favour the same political colour we do. As an active student at the university, I hope fellow students will be as active, assertive and putting this much effort to participate in other events organised by their colleagues as much as they did during the debate.

Democracy and activism find their roots beyond political parties and let us be truly free.


Sara Ezabe is a University student and a 2015 recipient of the UK’s Queen’s Young Leaders award for her work in promoting diversity and social inclusion.