Joe Grima puts his foot in it… again

More foot in mouth from former Labour minister, who struggles with online Facebook etiquette after dubbing human rights NGO aditus "cultural rapists"

Joe Grima removed the Facebook post targeting NGO Aditus, but director Neil Falzon has made his protest clear in a public letter to the Prime Minister
Joe Grima removed the Facebook post targeting NGO Aditus, but director Neil Falzon has made his protest clear in a public letter to the Prime Minister

Former Labour minister for industry Joe Grima – now a special envoy to the World Tourism Organisation for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – still appears to be struggling with online etiquette, dubbing human rights NGO Aditus “cultural rapists” on Facebook on Friday.

Responding to a report published by Aditus which proposes steps to be taken towards the integration of third-country nationals, Grima took to Facebook, writing, ‘(M)in ghandu dawn il-veduti estremi mhuxejn hlief stupratur indecenti tal kultura u t-tradizzjonijiet taghna. Postu hi fid detention centre’ (Whoever shares these extreme views is nothing but an indecent rapist of our culture and traditions. His place is in a detention centre).

The comments – which have been removed from Grima’s Facebook page – drew a firm response from the NGO, whose director and spokesperson, Neil Falzon, urged Muscat in a letter to take public action against Grima and his statements.

“From information available to us at the time of writing this letter, these posts are no longer visible on Mr Grima’s Facebook page, yet of course you must understand that we will not be interpreting this convenient removal of the posts as either a retraction or an apology,” Falzon wrote in the letter, which was circulated online through Aditus’s own Facebook page.
Claiming that while insults and aggressive feedback are sadly par for the course for an organisation like Aditus – which works closely with the much-maligned irregular migrant population – Falzon however said that Grima’s comments cannot be ignored or brushed off, owing to the fact that he enjoys high-level governmental support.
“As your special envoy to the World Tourism Organisation, [Grima] is apparently ignorant or disrespectful of the serious responsibilities attached to such support, particularly with regard to the treatment of civil society organisations and their staff members.”
Calling on the prime minister and his office to shoulder “legal and moral responsibility” for Grima’s comments, Falzon said that “as a minimum”, he expects Grima to publish “a clear apology directed at aditus foundation and myself as the organisation’s director”.
“Secondly, we will be looking forward to your Office issuing an equally clear condemnation of Mr Grima’s statements, indicative of Malta’s zero tolerance of hate speech and of attacks against civil society organisations,” Falzon added.

This isn’t the first time that Grima has found himself in hot water as a result of comments he made on Facebook. In August 2012, Grima’s discussion programme on One TV ‘Inkontri’ was axed after he made inflammatory remarks in response to an obituary for Dom Mintoff penned by Irish priest Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith.
“I read your article Fr Lucie-Smith and your comments about Dom Mintoff. Do you want to have mine? Certainly. Fuck you Father. If you’re not already used to it there are enough paedophiles (sic) in your clan to show you the ropes,” Grima wrote on Facebook.

The post resulted in Grima’s programme being axed from One TV, as then Labour leader, now prime minister Joseph Muscat was quick to disassociate himself from Grima’s remarks, saying that he could “never accept such language” and that Joe Grima is “not the face of the Labour Party”.
However two years later, in March 2014, Grima was appointed by Joseph Muscat as his special envoy to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation – Grima is also a former tourism minister.