Inciting hostility against members of a particular faith cannot be accepted as legitimate!

We, the undersigned non-governmental organisations, are gravely concerned by the decision of the Magistrate’s Court in the case against Brandon Bartolo. We feel it gives a message that it is not only an acceptable, but also a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression, to express strong anti-Muslim sentiments and to state that members of this religious faith have no place in Malta.

We are also deeply upset that comments made by the Magistrate in delivering judgement, as reported in the local media, were irrelevant, populist and also factually incorrect. In expressing those views, the Magistrate essentially condoned anti-migrant sentiment instead of upholding the human rights values our Courts of Laws are intended to promote.

Bartolo had written “Tmur tihdu fox kemm anda … awnhekk edin pajjizna .. ahna religjon wihed biss … huma guests iridu jimxu al ligijiet tagna … ma jogobomx??

Fuck off back to your country!”

It is extremely worrying that one of the highest authorities in the country condones the use of such hostile and denigrating language against anyone, particularly when it is because of a personal identity characteristic such as religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or their race.

Condoning such behaviour risks undermining not only the rights of members of the group directly targeted, but also the right of each and every one of us to be treated with respect, regardless of who we are or what we believe in.

While it is true that the law protects the right to freedom of expression and, to some extent, the right to offend, this freedom is by no means absolute. In fact, the European Convention on Human Rights specifically states that the Convention should not be interpreted as allowing anyone, be it the government or an individual, to behave in a way aimed at the destruction of the rights and freedoms laid down in the Convention.

In a case similar to the present one (Norwood v. The United Kingdom), the Court said that “a general, vehement attack against a religious group…is incompatible with the values proclaimed and guaranteed by the Convention, notably tolerance, social peace and non-discrimination”.

Statements which clearly incite hostility against members of a particular faith, and violate the prohibition on discrimination and the right to freedom of conscience and religion, cannot and should not be accepted as legitimate in a democratic society founded on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Such tirades do not only damage, annoy and offend the individual concerned, they also run counter to and undermine the values on which we claim our society is based.


This statement is issued by:

aditus foundation, The Critical Institute, Drachma LGBTI, Drachma Parents Group, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees , Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), KOPIN, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement (MGRM), Migrant Women Association Malta, National Foster Care Association, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), SOS Malta, Troup 18:45, Women’s Rights Foundation.


We would like to commend the Government of Malta’s stand against the far right group Defend Europe

Photo from independent.co.uk

We would like to commend the Government of Malta’s stand against the far right group Defend Europe in refusing to allow the C-Star to enter Malta.

Under the deceptive premise of ‘saving lives’, the mission of the vessel C-Star claims to ‘defend Europe’ by disrupting humanitarian vessels and by returning refugees to the coast of Libya.

The scope and actions of Defend Europe must not be underestimated, their political ideology is dangerous and extreme.

The stance adopted by the Government of Malta sends out a clear message against the politics of hate and extremism.

Statement of:

aditus foundation, Graffiti,  Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Kopin, The Critical Institute.


Which blood colour do you prefer?

aditus science in the city

Which blood colour do you prefer?

On 30 September our installation threw pop culture, provocation, and art together to discuss and challenge racism. ‘Colourism Haemophobia: Blood colour complexion’ took place in Valletta at Café Society during Science in the City 2016, the Science night festival—European Researchers’ Night.

The event is supported by the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme Horizon 2020 (H2020, 2014–2020) by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. Valletta was transformed with interactive exhibitions, artworks, music, talks and live experiments; it hosted science-fun activities for children and young teens, and science and arts workshops.

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Our idea was to create an anti-racist message that could also be used to promote the blood donations. We played with two different concepts:

  • Colourism, discrimination based on skin colour;
  • Haemophobia, a pathological fear of blood.

Our installation presented the tendency to perceive and behave toward members of a racial category based on the lightness or darkness of their skin tone, with the underlying message that skin colour is quite literally skin deep.

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It was a success and a lot of people interacted with the installation, during a pre-dinner drink or a beer later with the sea views at Café’ Society making it the perfect setting for our artwork.

The festival is organised by the University of Malta, Malta Chamber of Scientists and the Research Trust of the University of Malta, in partnership with Jugs Malta, Studio 7, MEUSAC, MCST, Valletta Local Council, Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology, PBS, Notte Bianca, Spazju Kreativ, and General Soft Drinks with Coca Cola.

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Blood, art, racism, science: what are we up to?

On 30 September we’ll be participating in Science in the City 2016 with an installation that challenges stereotypes and invites reflection on diversity.

The ‘Science in the City—European Researchers’ Night’ festival, is organised by the University of Malta, the Research Trust of the University of Malta and the Malta Chamber of Scientists together with a large number of partners. Funded by the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme H2020 (2014-2020) by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, it is recognized as a ‘festival’ by Europe for Festivals and Festivals for Europe (EFFE).

It is supported by Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovation, Youth & Sport, General Soft Drinks and a number of corporate sponsors.

Entitled ‘Colourism|Haemophobia’, our installation playfully uses blood in order to immerse viewers in questions about identity, prejudice, social cohesion and community.

Essentially, our installation promotes the value of equal human dignity as a fundamental principle and guiding social norm.

The ‘blind’ solidarity expressed when donating blood is a perfect context to underline the need for us to be ‘blind’ to skin colour, and to embrace the common humanity we all share.


Want to know more? Follow the Science in the City programme (regularly updated) for details on our installation’s location…

 

…and we’ll see you there!

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Solidarity with MEP Mestola

The recent threats against MEP Roberta Metsola are a worrying reminder of what happens when societies ignore, support or fuel right-wing sentiments and expressions. It is unacceptable for any person to be attacked in such a manner,  and we expect a full and unequivocal condemnation of these threats by the competent authorities.

Discussions on migration are challenging and often trigger deep emotional reactions. It is a complex subject that touches upon those elements held so dearly by many persons: identity, religion, security and family. Because is so sensitive and complex, it demands respect for all involved, accurate information on which to base arguments and conclusions and a common understanding that the expression of disagreements is an integral part of democracy.

The values of decency, human dignity and fundamental human rights must be at the core of our discussions on migrants and refugees, whatever our positions and opinions.

Yet hatred, violence, and vulgarity seem to be the only values known to those persons who are unwilling to engage in a more respectful, dignified and constructive manner. They seek to instil fear in the hope that the debate will scurry away or, worse, that it will be killed.

“aditus foundation supports a more productive expressive freedom. Often on the receiving end of similar threats, we nonetheless insist on upholding fundamental human rights at all times, and at all costs. We therefore express our solidarity with MEP Metsola and with all persons and institutions who come under vicious fire for their work, opinions and beliefs,” commented aditus Director Dr. Neil Falzon.

We therefore invite the Maltese authorities and all of society to take a clearer stand against racism and hate speech, in support of a migration discussion that is inclusive, respectful and dignified.