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Anti-Censorship Champion Calls On Prime Minister To Protect Maltese Writers From Religious Violence

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A major discussion about the limits of freedom of speech and the right for one’s religion to be protected by law has led to the head of the National Book Council, a well-known anti-censorship activist, to call on the Prime Minister to intervene.

“Robert Abela, it is never too late to do what is right. We writers, artists, journalists and publishers are tired of being killed and intimidated for our work,” Mark Camilleri said in a public post today.

His words come after he called for the deportation of Malta’s Imam Mohammed El Sadi following the Imam’s comments that religious vilification should be made illegal, arguing that provocative comics or satirical pictures, such as Charlie Hebdo’s controversial comics, invited violence by religious extremists.

“Defend us against fanatical ideologues who justify violence in the name of religion,” Camilleri said.

The debate over freedom of speech comes in the wake of the murder of Samuel Paty, a French school teacher who had shown a caricature of the Islamic prophet Mohammed in a class he taught.

The action led to backlash within the Muslim community, as well as among his students, and led to 18-year-0ld Chechen Muslim refugee Abdoullakh Anzorov capturing and beheading Paty on 16th October.

Anzorov was killed by policemen shortly afterwards.

Since then, there has been increasing tension between some parts of the Western world and segments of the Muslim community.

Speaking to Lovin Malta, Camilleri said that the Imam’s thinking could be dangerous for Maltese writers.

“The Imam hasn’t issued a condemnation of violence but instead made an argument based on the idea that writers and artists are provoking and inviting death and violence upon themselves with their work,” Camilleri said.

“This is also the same kind of thinking applied to Daphne Caruana Galizia and her murder with the idea that ‘she had it coming to her’. This kind of thinking is very dangerous to our society and artists, writers and journalists in Malta face various dangers and risks which the State should mitigate,” he said.

What do you make of this religious freedom/censorship debate?

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