Hindus & Jews have asked European Union (EU) to direct Malta to treat all religions and denominations equally in front of the law.
Malta Criminal Code reportedly makes one liable to imprisonment up to six months for publicly vilifying “Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion”, while committing such act against “any cult tolerated by law” makes one liable to imprisonment only up to three months.
Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement in Nevada today, said that it seemed to imply that except Roman Catholic, other religions and denominations including Hinduism and Judaism were just one of the cults in the eyes of Malta.
Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Freirich, argued that it was perturbing to note that a country of European Union, which prided itself for its human rights initiatives, apparently treated crimes against religious sentiment of “other” religions/denominations as less serious than against majority religion and described religions/denominations other than majority religion as cults.
Rajan Zed and Jonathan Freirich also urged EU to ask Malta to replace the subject of “religion” with “comparative religion” in its public primary and secondary schools, teaching basics of all major world religions, including the viewpoint of non-believers.
According to Constitution of Malta (Chapter I, Article 2, Item 3): “Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education.”
Zed and Freirich pointed out that opening-up the Malta children to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It also made a good business sense to know the beliefs of “others” in a global community. Moreover, students should have knowledge of the entire society to become full participants in the European community.
Venice Commission of Council of Europe in a report concluded that “offence of blasphemy should be abolished”. It states core values of effective democracy as: pluralism, tolerance, respect for human rights and non-discrimination. It points to education leading to better understanding of the convictions of others and to tolerance.
Maltese islands were first settled reportedly in 5,200 BCE. Few European countries have such concentrated architecture, history, and beaches in so small an area as Malta.