A Culture of intimidation

Our response to the disgusting incident this morning, when Labour MP Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi found a dead cat outside his home, is clear – we extend our solidarity to Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi and his family unequivocally.

We condemn any and all acts of intimidation. Intimidation goes against the values of our democracy, which can only be maintained through respectful disagreement and debate which always maintains the dignity of the people arguing. Ever since the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia last year, we have strived for a Malta where people can speak their minds without fearing intimidation or retribution for their words.

We do not want stop by just expressing our disappointment with this macabre act. For it also merits a discussion, an analysis of the situation that we are living in. Acts of intimidation are not a one-time occurrence, but a daily occurrence; Dr. Zrinzo Azzopardi has just become yet another victim of the culture of intimidation that blights our Republic.

Free speech and the right to protest are NOT the right to intimidation. No one has the right to try to shut someone up; to scare them into submission; to insult or threaten them with violence.

Apart from those who are in the public eye, there are those victims who are viciously attacked by trolls who are not given support by the media. Protesters in London this week, who disagree with the government’s sale of Maltese citizenship, have been viciously intimidated. Individual members of civil society, who believe there should be flowers opposite the Law Court, have been intimidated. Even businesses have been targeted for the owners’ opinion.

Intimidation and a lack of respect will rip our society apart. The moment we accept the intimidation of individuals with impunity. is the moment democracy dies.

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