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Police Crack Down On Pro-Lifers In Malta Over ‘Hate Speech’ As Legal Help Starts To Be Crowdfunded

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Police have called several pro-life people into the Floriana depot to answer for alleged hate speech in their Facebook comments about a pro-choice PN candidate.

Simon Debono, the administrator of the popular Facebook group ‘Abortion In Malta? Not In My Name’, warned there has been a “wave” of arrests by the CID recently.

As a result of these arrests, the pro-life movement is organising and even crowdfunding legal fees for criminal lawyers in case it ends up in court.

Writing in the anti-abortion group, he said these included a woman in her 60s whose daughter had just given birth and who had told Emma Portelli Bonnici to “get lost, we don’t need people like you in our country”.

“She burst out crying at the depot and the officers ended up apologising and told her they were just following orders,” Debono said. “She said it was free speech, not hate speech, fair comment against the murder of innocent babies in the womb.”

He didn’t state what the other comments were.

Portelli Bonnici recently reported priest Fr Andrew Borg to the police after he called her “Hitler, a satanist, a murderer, a butcher and a criminal” over her pro-choice views.

She confirmed with Lovin Malta that she didn’t report anyone else besides Fr Borg to the police for hate speech.

Debono announced that his group is crowdfunding the services of a criminal lawyer in case the people end up getting charged for hate speech and has urged people to call them up to donate.

In another post, he quoted a blog by history lecturer Simon Mercieca which claimed that the people under investigation are “pro-life Nationalist voters” who disliked the fact that one of their party’s candidates is pro-choice.

“When Dom Mintoff had allowed his thugs to use violence in the 70s and the early 80s, his party ended up spending 25 years in opposition. Now the PN is using violence, not through thugs but through the courts and the police.”

“This is worse than the violence of Mintoff’s days because it is being used by PN candidates against Nationalists. These are sins that cannot be forgiven.”

In the blog, Mercieca warned that the scales are tipped against pro-lifers in the debate over whether abortion should be legalised.

“It is clear that people who are in favour of abortion will be able to say whatever they want, but God forbid anyone says anything that can be interpreted as being out of place.”

“Otherwise they will be sent straight to the police depot and onwards to court. Muzzles are already being placed on the mouths of people who are against abortion.”

Contacted by Lovin Malta, Debono warned the situation could escalate to a point of social unrest and is a godsend for the Labour Party ahead of the next general election.

Asked whether they intend to charge anyone with hate speech over their comments against Portelli Bonnici, a police spokesperson confirmed that investigations are ongoing.

Malta has been dealing with a swathe of online harassment and four young politicians recently spoke to Lovin Malta about their experience dealing with vicious and abusive comments. You can watch what they had to say below.

Cover Photo: Inset Left: Stock Photo, Inset Right: Simon Debono and Emma Portelli Bonnici

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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