The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has shook the country to its core. The controversial journalist, who wrote for the Malta Independent and on her own personal blog, was killed by a bomb in the rental car she was driving this afternoon; a bomb which was so powerful that it catapulted the car halfway into the field on the opposite of the road she was driving on.
I don’t feel the need to tell you about who Daphne Caruana Galizia was and what she stood for. Everybody on the island knows who she was, and everybody has their own opinion and what she stood for. This is a moment where these divisions and feelings are totally irrelevant. To be completely blunt about it, any people who feel a sense of happiness to this news need to have a long look at themselves in the mirror and re-evaluate how they think.
This is more than an attack on one person. This is an attack on all the journalists in the country and an attack on freedom of speech as a whole. French philosopher Voltaire once said “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is the nature of free speech and this is what every modern, democratic country is built upon. Without freedom of speech, there is no democracy.
Daphne Caruana Galizia disagreed with many people and indeed was a target of anger from both sides of the political divide, and as a journalist, she was not afraid of saying so and she was not afraid of asking uncomfortable questions. In many respects, this is what journalism is about – asking the uncomfortable questions. When such acts take place, it is an attack on our way of living. Since when was having a different opinion punishable by death? What does this barbarous act say to our journalists? It is a terrifying situation when those who are meant to bring counter-balance and truth to the people, begin to live in fear for their lives everyday because they are doing so.
This is a dark day for freedom of speech, for democracy and for our country as a whole. In 1977, Archbishop Mikiel Gonzi called the murder by letterbomb of Karen Grech, daughter of Professor Edwin Grech, “the first terrorist act in the country”. 40 years later, this is the second.