This comment was placed by M. Spiteri in response to my comments this morning on Arnold Cassola’s article. Read the original article and my first commentary for context.

Hi Manuel. I’ve read the said article on the TOM. If I am correct, it’s stated that the whistle blower spilled the beans AFTER he was denied citizenship. Does that make him loyal or else vindictive?

Had he been given citizenship, life at TM would have kept on going as usual.

I don’t think he is a model person…far from it. We should thank the guys who denied him citizenship, thus making him expose to all what he had known for ages.

Let us, for the sake of argument, accept a sequence of events were “Aziz” decided to expose corruption afterhe was denied citizenship and not the other way round. Though we’re not inside his head let us accept that there’s a causal relationship between the two events and Aziz indeed decided to expose corruption becausehe was denied citizenship.

Here are some observations.

Firstly, the motivation a citizen might have to expose corruption is not relevant as to whether the evidence they produce is worthwhile or whether they should be entitled to protection for having done so. If we require witnesses to be of pure heart we’d never get the evidence we need to punish criminals.

Indeed, the character that is typical of any whistle-blower is, perhaps stereotypically, someone who struggles to make friends. For people to understand this, I normally recommend Serpico, the Sidney Lumet film from 1973.

So even if it is true that Aziz decided to blow the whistle because he was angry at the way he was treated, it frankly does not matter. He was, as a matter of fact, exposing corruption. And we should have laws that ensure that he would not suffer detrimental consequences as a result.

Secondly, the notion that people who make Malta their home (for 18 years, paying taxes, and working in the community) should be recognised as Maltese citizens is not qualified by whether they expose corruption or not, much less if they do so for the right or wrong reasons.

That’s the whole point: that there should not be discrimination between Maltese people (those who are automatically eligible to be recognised as citizens and those who must beg for it and acquire it only as a gift of ministers). We do not consider exile for Maltese citizens who blow the whistle on corruption, even if their motivation to do such a thing is something we might not like, such as anger that they didn’t get the building permit they felt entitled to or were skipped for surgery.

Citizenship is not a gift. It’s a right. Even the worst murderers are not denied citizenship and are not forced into exile. Why should we treat Aziz differently? What gives us the right, moral if not narrowly legal, to discriminate between people for whom this country is their home?

I’m not sure how to label M Spiteri’s prejudices. ‘Racism’ is facile because someone born in Palestine is frankly indistinguishable in appearance from someone who has descended from generations of people born here. ‘Xenophobia’ is just as inaccurate. Aziz lived here for 18 years. You could hardly call him an outsider even if you wilfully discriminated against him.

Perhaps M Spiteri is motivated by Islamophobia or else by the sort of parochialism that still exists within some villages in the rivalry between the partisans of St Catherine, say, or St Leonard, St Joseph, and the multiple cults of the Virgin.

Whatever you want to call it, M Spiteri’s (and the government’s) policy is the cleanest application of the dictionary definition of prejudice. For he judges Aziz by what he presumes Aziz would have done if his application for citizenship had been granted. He supposes that Aziz would have shut up about the corruption and not exposed it. How can anyone know that? And how can M Spiteri favour his supposition of what might have happened over the fact that he does know what did happen: that Aziz did actually expose the corruption he was aware of?

That’s prejudice, to judge by what you expect someone you do not know would do and not by what they have actually done.

That’s why, M Spiteri, I couldn’t disagree more.