Recent incidents of vandalism show that the government needs to create a national action plan dedicated to the integration of migrants into Maltese communities in order to bridge the cultural and linguistic gaps, St Paul’s Bay Mayor Graziella Galea told The Malta Independent.
Ms Galea was responding to questions regarding the recent increase of vandalism and graffiti in Bugibba, St Paul’s Bay and Qawra.
The localities have been faced with a number with offences with the Christmas tree in Bugibba Square and a number of walls and signs having have been vandalised over the past couple of months.
To combat the recent spike in crime, police supervision has been increased in the area and will remain in place until the perpetrators are caught, Ms Galea said.
The graffiti found in the area is mostly written in Serbian, and, according to a translator, it reads “Hunting season is open”, which is a taunt between Belgrade football teams, and, according to sources, had raised local concerns that there may be some conflict between communities in the area.
The area, whose foreign population makes up about a third of the community, has experienced tensions between the different nationalities.
As recently as October, Moviment Patrijotti Maltin organised a protest against what they were claiming was the building of an illegal mosque in Bugibba. However, all it involved was the change of use and sanctioning of a garage into a prayer room.
The local council objected to the planning application.
For Ms Galea, language, culture and religion are barriers between proper integration, it was for this reason she pointed to St Paul’s Bay Primary School as the best example of how special integration can be. Here, she says, children are able to forget what makes them different from one another and allows them to focus on their similarities.