Culture Minister Jose Herrera has slammed calls for the removal of monuments linked to the colonial era such as the statue of Queen Victoria in Valletta, saying it is a “ridiculous idea”.

“By the same yardstick we should also remove the statue of [Valletta founder] Jean de Valette,” he said.

The culture minister spoke on the controversy in parliament when winding-up a debate on the financial estimates of Heritage Malta and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage.

Calls for the removal of monuments and landmarks associated with Malta’s colonial past have echoed a similar movement abroad following protests fuelled by the murder of African-American George Floyd by a police officer in the US. 

“I completely disagree with those calling for the dismantling of monuments erected when Malta was under foreign rule,” Herrera said.

Were one to remove the statue of Queen Victoria, the same should apply for the statue of De Valette since at the time Malta was under the reign of the Knights of St John.

He noted that for much of its history Malta was under foreign rule.

“It would be ridiculous to dismantle monuments pertaining to an imperialist period. History cannot be changed and must be taken within the context of that particular era,” the culture minister said.

He also referred to the George Cross saying this was recognition of Malta’s gallantry during the second world war and showcasing it was therefore not an act of humiliation.  

He noted that some Commonwealth countries have even retained the Union Jack in their national flag even though they are independent states.

“Destroying monuments will in no way alter history,” he insisted.

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