Updated | Minister deplores attack by self-proclaimed patriots on transgender activist

Education minister says educators should not spread hate after activist Alex Caruana is targeted by Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin exponent and University lecturer Stephen Florian for being transgender

University student Alex Caruana
University student Alex Caruana

The self-proclaimed Maltese ‘patriots’ have now targeted a 27-year-old activist for being transgender.

Alex Caruana was one of three activists who on Sunday interrupted a protest by the Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin (GhPM), urging protesters to stop inciting hatred and disunity in Malta.

“Why can’t people from all religions live in peace?” he had asked during the protest. “This protest is nothing but a needless provocation against the Muslim community in Malta, which has never caused any problems in Malta.”

The protest was organised after the Dominican Order temporarily opened the doors of its Valletta college to the Muslim community for worship. In St Paul’s Bay, the local council opposed a planning application for a prayer room.

Now, a homophobic post has gone up on the Facebook page of the GhPM, targeting Caruana.

“Time we got to know who Alex Caruana really is and was,” Stephen Florian, who is also a lecturer, posted on Facebook.

Alex Caruana has been targeted by the Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin
Alex Caruana has been targeted by the Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin

“This girl who now calls herself Alexander, was one of the three atheists who came to photomob [sic] the MPM Bugibba protest and the same one who on Xarabank, blundered in her numbers when stating garbled data about the 'billions' of Muslims living in Malta and worldwide.”

Florian goes on to comment on Caruana’s affiliation with Moviment Graffiti, a left-wing movement which is vocal on issues such as human rights, political transparency and the environment. He also targets Alternattiva Demokratika and Mario Mallia, a green party spokesperson.

Education minister says educators should not spread hate

In a Facebook post, education minister Evarist Bartolo wrote “The attack by the so-called patriots on Alex Caruana and others who champion respect towards different cultures and religions is absolutely inacceptable.”

In a clear reference to Florian, he added “the role of an educator should be that of civilising and not spreading hate based on race, religion and gender.”  

“The picture attached shows the Caruana's link to Graffitti which now is in direct alliance with Alternattiva Demokratika, where Mario Mallia comes from. AD which is almost defunct needs new blood. Now you can make your own deductions.”

AD chairperson Arnold Cassola said that the shameless hatred spread against Caruana was despicable. "Unacceptable, when coming from people who have had little chances in life; very worrying for the future of the country when coming from someone who has had a sound cultural and educational formation," Cassola said.

Florian’s comments have been denounced by several on social media, with many taking to Caruana’s Facebook to express their solidarity and support. Among them was producer Adrian Buckle who said: "University allowing a University lecturer bullying a student because he is trans to defend xenophobic feelings. Shame!"

Commenting on the post, Caruana questioned the relevance between his gender and the arguments being brought forward by GhPM in their opposition for new prayer rooms.

“When no arguments are left, people launch personal attacks,” Caruana commented, adding that such comments only proved that GhPM knows only hatred. “We must unite to show that this island is for peace and respect.”