Malta’s political class has reacted strongly to an act of censorship that occurred on the grounds of the University of Malta on the very first day of the scholastic year.
As the Univerity of Malta refuses to apologise for confiscating a student’s mask, ostensibly a tall tower that featured the faces of people such as Transport Minister Ian Borg and Malta Developer’s Association chief Sandro Chetcuti, more and more groups and individuals have condemned the removal as an act of censorship.
1. The Leader of the Opposition Adrian Delia called the act “unacceptable, undemocratic and shameful”.
2. University lecturer and former Alternattiva Demokratika leader Arnold Cassola called out the University for not apologising after the act, saying he was ‘flabbergasted’.
“I am sorry to see the university going this way which, in my modest opinion, is the wrong way,” he said, before calling out the University for allowing actual politicians to walk around Fresher’s Week freely, but stopped students from wearing politician’s masks.
“Going by this press release, I would then have expected the University to kick out MEP Miriam Dalli today. She was there mingling amongst the students, no doubt pushing herself and her party. But, of course, she was not protesting. So that is OK… a welcome part of the system! How very sad,” he said.
3. In a now-deleted status, National Book Council Chairman Mark Camilleri, who had himself ended up in court over University censorship of his student magazine, called for protests to be held in response.
“I am shocked and scandalised that under a Labour administration the authoritarian and fascist mentality of the University of Malta has not changed one iota. It’s time we call the University of Malta for what it is – the bedrock of Malta’s conservatism and a bulwark for Malta’s authoritarian and fascist ideas,” Camilleri said, before calling for ‘a show of force’ to be organised in response to the heavy-handedness.
4. V.18 Chairman Jason Micallef made a shady comment about students.
5. While the niece of late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia dropped an apt comparison between the uproar following yesterday’s incident and the repeated removal of a makeshift memorial dedicated to her aunt.
6. Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola also commented on the incident, saying we should be “proud” of student activism.
7. The University of Malta issued a statement doubling down on its actions, saying Fresher’s Week is not the place to voice any form of protest.
“Freshers’ Week reaches out to thousands of students and is visited by various dignitaries,” the University of Malta said in a statement.
“The Moviment Graffiti representative was asked to remove the mask when he ventured outside the designated Moviment Graffitti stand and mingled with students visiting other stands. It was at this point that security officers, concerned that the matter might provoke a reaction and escalate, decided to act to defuse the situation. The University of Malta reiterates its commitment to healthy political debate and commits to provide a conducive environment for such,” UoM said in a statement.
“Freshers’ Week, organised by KSU, is meant to showcase student organisations, private and public enterprise and to introduce new students to university life. The UM feels that this event is not the appropriate platform to voice any form of protest,” they continued.
They then referred to the fact that the Malta University Debating Union had been set up as proof that the university “actively supports political debate as evidenced, inter alia, by the setting up of the Malta University Debating Union (MUDU) which has been pivotal in organising a number of political debates on campus.”