The Malta Independent 26 April 2019, Friday

‘I was wrong in calling Urso a bitch’ - V18 Artistic Director Mario Philip Azzopardi

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 26 April 2018, 10:03 Last update: about 13 months ago

V18 Artistic Director Mario Philip Azzopardi has said that he was wrong to call an activist who partook in and filmed a protest against the sale of passports in London a 'bitch'.

This pejorative comment by Azzopardi came days after v18 Chairman Jason Micallef was slammed for similar behaviour by PEN international writers, local renowned artists and 72 MEPs from across political groups. Azzopardi's 'bitch' comment was made on a post shared on Facebook by his colleague Sandro Kitcher, who is part of the 'Special Events' team of V18. Accompanied by a photograph of the activist, the post read 'This is Martina Urso who was the brains behind yesterday's event in London with the aim of dirtying Malta's name, be ashamed if you know how to be Martina, traitor, you are indebted to the Maltese and Gozitan population, Malta despises you!!'

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In a social media post today, Azzopardi said: "I was wrong in calling Urso a 'bitch'. For a second I believed the post on Facebook, in which she was 'quoted' as saying she hated everything Maltese, Malta, the Prime minister, his family. I saw red and I called her a bitch. It turns out she never wrote that. I fell victim to fake news. Pathetic. I apologize. I do not agree with her but she has the absolute right to protest as she sees fit. My comments were directed at what I perceived to be a direct insult to my country, and although that is also within her right, mine was an impulsive reaction, borne out of a sense of loyalty and love of my place of birth. I was hurt. Seriously. And that too is within her right, to seriously hurt my feelings. Now I want to believe that Urso would never say such things. Hopefully she does what she does because she too loves her country, in her own way. I don't agree with her and I believe that her protest has an agenda that goes beyond her aversion to the passport scheme."

"And this brings me to some serious reflection. We are gnawing at ourselves from the inside. It's hurting us all. It has to stop. Please, just look around us. See what's there. Notice where we live, how we live. Such a wonderful country. We're so lucky. No, really, for a second suppress the automatic Maltese gemgem in all of us and look around and savor the fact that we live HERE, surrounded by beauty, supported by a fundamentally caring society, striving forward, doing well. And all this notwithstanding the hiccups and tribulations we have to face, because after all, we are alive, and that means we will face problems. When all is said and done, and if we are honest with ourselves, here in Malta, we are lucky. Is it perfect? You know what? I hope it's not. There is no life without conflict of sorts. Conflict gives us the strength to change, to be better, to aspire for more, to excel. We should embrace it and deal with it, for our mutual benefit. FB works only to hurt us. No one ever changes his or her opinion because of what one reads on that damned FB, but it can surely light up the worst toxic fires in us all, as it did to me in my Urso post. We are letting ourselves be sucked down into a pit of mutual dislike which forces us into negativity, transforming that life giving conflict into useless, dangerous, counter productive, mediocre, pathetic tribalism. Enough. All of us. Enough."

"And, I know this will not change anything or anyone. Tired."

 


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