The Malta Independent 21 September 2018, Friday

TMID Editorial: Safety and security - Defusing the terror

Tuesday, 4 September 2018, 11:00 Last update: about 17 days ago

Malta, this end of summer, is like a tinderbox, with only a small spark needed to start a conflagration.

Those who follow the social media know what we are talking about but those who live in another sphere do not understand.

The social media, of course, is very prone to receiving and passing on posts that verge on racism. It picks up from obscure websites events that strike terror and then it also picks up, amplifies and expands any little thing that happens here.

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These past days, it did not have to exaggerate at all, for what happened was serious enough.

Just to summarise:

A man was last week charged in court in the wake of a large-scale brawl that broke out between two groups of Syrians in Tarxien on Wednesday.

A 23-year-old man was seriously injured in the fight, in which knives and hard objects were used.

Bail was granted and a protection order issued in favour of the man’s alleged victim.

Around two hours later, another fight broke out in Marsa

Two vans were seen driving to Triq Isouard in Marsa at around 11:15pm before pulling up to the side, NET News reported. A number of Syrian men exited the car in a hurry, and ran towards a residence where around 7 people were sleeping.

They were reportedly carrying metal rods as well as rocks. Soon after, a fight erupted in the streets.

Police have confirmed that sharp objects were used in the fight, and one witness reportedly saw the police retrieve a sharp object from under a car.

Two men involved in the fight were treated for slight injuries. The fight involved Syrian men aged between the ages of 22 and 32 years.

The police are investigating whether the two fights are related. Investigations are ongoing.

It is an understatement to say people are worried. Those especially who live in areas that have been taken over by non-Maltese, have seen their lives change beyond recognition. People are afraid of leaving their homes; they would move elsewhere if they had the means.

This is not an exaggeration: speak to the people on the spot.

When it came then to the political speeches on Sunday, one leader, the prime minister, reacted to the events while the other leader, the Leader of the Opposition, did not even refer to the events. This is the man who some time ago made a big thing of going to the Marsa police station and ringing the bell on a closed police station.

Muscat was very right to insist the law is there for everyone. There is one law and it is the same for everyone, whatever the colour, the race, the nationality.

But one has to ask whether Muscat’s rather bland assurances on Sunday satisfy people who are alarmed and living a life of fear. He had given the same assurances some months back, the police did boost their presence in Marsa for some time, the police station is now, to the best of our knowledge, being kept open.

But the lawlessness has returned. We have now come to the point of armed aggression between groups of foreigners just like Wild West. Fortunately no innocent victim, or Maltese, got in the way and was injured. That is no excuse, of course. We cannot allow our streets to become as we have got used to seeing happen in other countries where law and order have broken down.

The police presence must be beefed up and they must be given adequate protective apparatus so that they can fulfill their job adequately. People must see more police on the roads and any infringement must be tackled.

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