Univer­sity dis­tances it­self from dis­crim­i­na­tion and racial ha­tred

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Univer­sity of Malta yes­ter­day un­der­lined its com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing and pro­tect­ing di­ver­sity and the rights of all in­di­vid­u­als and dis­so­ci­ated it­self un­re­servedly from all ac­tions, whether ver­bal or oth­er­wise, which at­tempt to pro­mote dis­crim­i­na­tion and/or in­cite­ment to racial ha­tred against any groups of peo­ple.

It was re­act­ing to re­ports last week­end that a lec­turer had taken to so­cial me­dia to give a gen­der his­tory of a per­son who had protested against dur­ing an ac­tiv­ity or­gan­ised by an or­gan­i­sa­tion that calls it­self the Għaqda Pa­tri­jotti Maltin, in the form of a protest march against the set­ting up of Mosques and to ex­press what they de­scribed as ‘sol­i­dar­ity’ with the peo­ple of Qawra and Buġibba

The lec­turer, Stephen Flo­rian, has since apol­o­gised.

In a state­ment, yes­ter­day, while af­firm­ing the right to free­dom of ex­pres­sion and as­so­ci­a­tion, the Univer­sity of Malta con­demned all ac­tions which are mo­ti­vated, wholly or partly by any form of hos­til­ity to­wards di­verse groups.

The Univer­sity said it prides it­self in fos­ter­ing di­ver­sity and pro­vides a wel­com­ing learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment to more than 12,000 stu­dents in­clud­ing over a thou­sand un­der­grad­u­ate and post-grad­u­ate stu­dents hail­ing from 92 coun­tries. The lec­tur­ing com­mu­nity is in it­self in­ter­na­tional and di­verse.

By way of clar­i­fi­ca­tion, and con­trary to some re­ports in­cluded in sec­tions of the me­dia, the in­di­vid­ual in ques­tion, Stephen Flo­rian, is not a full-time aca­demic but a vis­it­ing part-time lec­turer.

The Univer­sity of Malta said it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

De­spite his apol­ogy, Mr Flo­rian could still be pros­e­cuted and face a fine of be­tween €1,000 and €5,000.

A spokesper­son for Civil Lib­er­ties Min­is­ter He­lena Dalli pointed out to our sis­ter Sun­day pub­li­ca­tion that Mr Flo­rian’s ac­tions could very well be pros­e­cutable, cit­ing Ar­ti­cle 11 (1) of the Gen­der Iden­tity law which stip­u­lates: “Whoso­ever shall know­ingly ex­pose any per­son who has availed of the pro­vi­sions of this Act, or shall in­sult or re­vile a per­son, shall upon con­vic­tion be li­able to a fine of not less than one thou­sand euro (€1,000) and not ex­ceed­ing five thou­sand euro (€5,000).”

Ac­cord­ing to the spokesper­son, the Ar­ti­cle was in­ten­tion­ally in­cluded in the law to cover cases where “the ex­po­sure of the per­son’s sex­ual iden­tity is used to un­der­mine that per­son’s demo­cratic and civil rights that em­anate from this or any other law.”

On Sat­ur­day, Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Em­ploy­ment Evarist Bar­tolo took to Face­book to con­demn the at­tack by the so­called ‘pa­tri­ots’ against Alex Caru­ana. “These at­tacks are ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able; all of this be­cause this stu­dent de­cided to favour re­spect to­wards other cul­tures and re­li­gions.”

He also added that the work of an ed­u­ca­tor is to civ­i­lize, and not to in­sti­gate ha­tred.

Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika chair­man Arnold Cas­sola de­scribed Sat­ur­day’s so­cial me­dia in­ci­dent as a shameless spread­ing of ha­tred. “Very wor­ry­ing for the fu­ture of the coun­try when com­ing from some­one who has had a sound cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional for­ma­tion,” he said in a Face­book post.

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