Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia replied that “everyone has the right to their personal opinion” after a consultant posted potentially anti-Semitic remarks on Facebook.
Family therapist Charlie Azzopardi wrote on his personal Facebook page on October 8: “The Jews are the real terrorists. Wherever they go, there is bloodshed and war” (translated from Maltese).
The comment accompanied a news video of undercover Israeli security forces infiltrating and attacking a group of Palestinian stone throwers during the recent escalated violence in the region.
Speaking to the Times of Malta yesterday, Dr Farrugia said the comments did not reflect his own personal point of view, adding he did not feel he should involve himself in anyone’s personal opinion.
“Dr Azzopardi has to defend that opinion himself,” the minister said. “I can only speak about my opinion about the Middle East, which is that I want to see peace, including a Palestinian State.”
Dr Farrugia said the comments did not reflect his own personal point of view
His response comes after a formal complaint over the incident was filed with the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) by columnist and anthropologist Mark-Anthony Falzon.
Writing in The Sunday Times of Malta, Prof. Falzon said Dr Azzopardi’s comments were irreconcilable with the brief of the Social Solidarity Ministry.
“More broadly, it is the duty of any government to serve citizens fairly, irrespective of their race, colour or creed,” he said. “Azzopardi’s role as consultant to the ministry is no longer tenable and I call on the minister to sack him,” he said.
Dr Farrugia would not say whether any action was being taken but said he would be following the outcome of the NCPE investigation. Questions sent to the NCPE on the report filed and the procedures to be followed were not yet answered at the time of writing.
When contacted, Dr Azzopardi refused to comment on the incident, saying only he would leave it up to the public to decide “what is racist and what isn’t”.
Dr Azzopardi, who unsuccessfully contested the last general election on the Labour Party ticket, is employed by the ministry as a consultant on “family issues” on a €17,000 annual contract.
The Facebook profile where the comments appeared also contains a number of links to right-wing and anti-Islamic media.
In another post, Dr Azzopardi wrote that “the world was a much better place” with ousted dictators Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein in power.