Dom Mintoff: the Series in his memory (6)

This footage recounts how Mintoff used to keep the crowd hooked and attentive, from the beginning of his speech to its end. He used to say:

“Għandna niggvernaw għall-kotra. Li għandna niggvernaw biex ngħinu lill-fqir, biex ngħinu lill-ħaddiem. Aħna din il-fidi tagħna.”

Mintoff used to attend the Seminary school, before he progressed to the University of Malta and that of Oxford to become an architect.

It was a period of total hysteria, and even when one has a look at the posters that used to be set up at the times like ‘Mintoff qattiel tal-erwieh’, with Mintoff being portrayed as the red devil with horns. It was mass hysteria to lead the nation by its nose to illegitimate paths.

Profs Guide Demarco states that he had never agreed with The Interdett, but he could not do anything as a politician because it was something related to the Church. Mintoff used to invite Archbishop Gonzi to debate him in Bormla:

‘Jien ngħidlu minn hawnhekk lis-Sir Michael Gonzi, li jmissek tikkundanna huwa li tħalli nies riġettati ma jifhmu f’xejn u ma jemmnu f’xejn jisservew bil-Knisja bħalma qegħdin jagħmlu issa, idoqqu l-qniepen, biex ma jħallux id-demokrazija taħdem.”

When meetings used to be held, especially the famous meeting in Gozo, members of the Church like nuns, cathecists etc took out to the streets shouting and ringing the bells so to stop him from speaking.

The Interdett had come forth after the Labour Party had published a policy statement in which serious accusations were made against a particular archbishop, as a collaborator of the colonial forces in the country, claiming that the archbishop is working against national interests.

Despite all opposition, Mintoff persevered and persisted:

“Iż-żminijiet tal-Medju Evu spiċċaw. Spiċċa ż-żmien tal-inkwiżizzjoni, meta min jiftaħ ħalqu, jaqtgħulu lsienu, min iċaqlaq riglejh, jaqtgħuhielu barra, u min ma jagħmilx dak kollu li jgħidulu, jitfgħuh fil-bir tas-skieken. Dak spiċċa! Waħda mill-akbar servizzi li qed jagħmel il-moviment tagħna ġewwa Malta huwa li jneħħi l-għanqbut.”

Three members of the Executive could not get married in the usual way because of the Interdett. These were Joe Micallef Stafrace, who got married in the sacristy of the Rabat church; Lino Spiteri who got married in the sacristy of the Qormi church and Joe Rizzo.

According to the Church, whoever was a member of the Labour Party, writes, reads and sells its newspapers, would be doing a deadly sin. It was also considered such to vote for the Labour Party. However, in the 1962 election, despite this, 51,000 people had still voted for Labour.

Hence why the Labourites were called ‘Suldati tal-Azzar’ [soldiers of steel] because they were condemned, were not allowed to go to Church, were not allowed to buy and read the Labour newspapers and they were even denied jobs.

“Kulħadd għandu d-dritt, skont id-drittijiet tal-bniedem, illi jeżerċita’ r-reliġjon fil-liberta’, mingħajr indħil. Imma hekk ukoll, skont id-drittijiet tal-bniedem, kulħadd għandu d-dritt, li ma jkollux indħil fl-eżerċitazzjoni tad-drittijiet politiċi tiegħu.”

The Labour supporters could not even be buried in normal cemetries during the Interdett. They used to be buried in a part which was not sacred in the cemetry called ‘il-Mizbla’. A famous writer who was buried in it was Ġuże Ellul Mercer.

It must be remembered that Mintoff had a sister who was a cloistered nun and a priest, Patri Dijonisju. Wenzu Mintoff recounts how it was a very difficult period for his sister, Assunta or Sister Bernadette, enclosed in a convent, with all that political-religious upheavel and feud going on between her brother and the Church.

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