The Prime Minister was reported in The Times saying yesterday “all those trying to make political mileage out of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia would see it blow up in their face.”

Although the defense that protesters are not interested in political mileage, merely political change, will not be heard, it is presumed Joseph Muscat was speaking to every man and woman protesting yesterday.

“The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia will blow up in your face”.

A disgusting, cruel, evil choice of words. We have a prime minister who coolly intimidates common citizens with explosions when one so dramatically mortifying is so fresh in our minds and hearts. We are effectively being accused by our prime minister to have plotted Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and our plot is now back-firing on us.

That anyone could think such a thing is shocking. That anyone would say such a thing is infuriating. That a prime minister would say such a thing to the people he is entrusted to govern is unforgivable.

The prime minister pretended to be shocked that I accused his deputy communications officer of attending a protest in front of Castille to identify the protesters for eventual intimidation and retribution.

But this is the systematic methodology of repression of a regime intolerant of opposition and arrogant in the conviction that the support of the majority – which is what it is – authorises them to monopolise power and crush dissent.

Here’s Super 1’s report of yesterday protest. Their camera crew sifted through the crowd photographing targets for the crime of being or having been Nationalist. This is supposed to discredit the civil society protests. It is supposed to tarnish them as partisan and therefore, somehow, wrong. It is supposed to be scandalous that Richard Cachia Caruana, say, or yours truly of course, is present at a protest march because we don’t really mean to protest. We just mean to bring about the political advantage of the PN.

Quite apart from the fact that the PN right now could not acquire political advantage if it’s endorsed by the UN and given a winning euro-millions ticket, the real scandal is not who was there, but who was not.

On those rare occasions when people take the initiative and without waiting for the cue of their political party, if they have one, protest a noble political desire such as demanding justice and equality before the law is, political parties shake in their boots.

The leaderships of both political parties want nothing better than this Daphne Caruana Galizia thing to blow over sooner rather than later. It is causing stress to both leaderships mostly because they are not in control of the agenda which is where they are used to being. It is holding foremost on people’s thoughts the considerations the political politburos don’t want people to be thinking about: corruption, collusion with crime, bullying and intimidation of critical journalism.

Joseph Muscat started the week last Monday resolved this would be business as usual. But a troupe of a hundred strong-willed women ripped the newspapers’ front pages away from him four days in a row. They did not penetrate the state controlled TV which yesterday all but ignored 10,000 men and women marching in the streets of Sliema demanding political change.

And they did not penetrate Super 1 which under the veil of journalism attacks and seeks to silence free speech and protest. Super 1 is not an exercise in free speech. It is not journalism. The cameras and the pens in their hands are not tools of plurality and democracy. They are weapons in the hands of an oppressive state that uses intimidation to silence its critics and scare off the relatively more timid.

The people photographed by the state are paraded for the hateful trolling mobilised and coordinated by the state. These are acts of psychological warfare perpetrated by a vicious regime intent on wiping away criticism which causes it embarrassment.

Critics are dubbed traitors, whores, seditionists, fascists, anti-democrats, and, horror of horrors, Nationalist.
And now the prime minister warns the last remaining critics they will be burnt by the fire that incinerated Daphne Caruana Galizia while he walks away from this crime with the enthusiastic applause of the majority ringing in his ears.

A combination of fear and inevitable lack of stamina as people need to get back to work and take care of their children, will keep people at home living their humdrum lives and leaving the country to the prime minister and his gang to bustle in.

This is what passes for political strategy in this country.

The ringing and rumbling of angry protesting citizenry is softened almost into melody by the distance. For those who won’t go away there will be the isolation, the wrath and the fire that ultimately killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The photos with this post are by Paul Borg Olivier