The Malta Independent 22 September 2019, Sunday

It’s not fair that he was killed in Malta

Victor Calleja Sunday, 26 May 2019, 09:42 Last update: about 5 months ago

Many were horrified by the murder of Lassana Cisse, allegedly at the hands of two soldiers. We cried because a man had been killed and we cried for shame: shame that the atmosphere in this country is leading to these horrific acts. Our reputation as a safe country is being eroded, notwithstanding assurances to the contrary by the grieving Prime Minister.

We cannot let it be said that we are a country where people are killed in cold blood. But Joseph Muscat has concluded that there is no political responsibility to be carried by anyone. The arbiter of all responsibility has decreed this and we must accept it.

This statement is truly shocking – but not surprising. Following a previous cold-blooded murder – that of Daphne Caruana Galizia – nobody resigned; nobody felt the need to shoulder responsibility.

Lassana Cisse’s murder has been condemned by everyone but, deep down, some people reason that, after all, he wasn’t one of us. Therefore, the reasoning goes, his murder was not so horrific.

As a country, our main concern is our reputation. Basically, we should be doing our utmost to uncover the core of the problem. If you dig deeper you find that, inherently, we are racists. We do not confront our demons. We constantly experience bigotry, hear it spoken out loud, but do nothing.

If anyone is different from us, we consider them ‘the others’, foreign. Sadly, even when we see this happening around us, we let it go. At the church I attend – to worship Christ and his inclusivity – I regularly see someone who writes bigoted stuff on Facebook, who thinks Malta is being ruined and poisoned by ‘others’. In his case, those ‘others’ are Muslim.

Yet, because I know him, I have never – beyond telling him I don’t agree with his views – done anything to name and shame him. I’ve accepted that he comes round to collect donations in the name of the Church and I’m sure that his views are known by the clerics. Yet nothing is done to at least show him how harmful, and unchristian, his words are.

What is being done to educate us, to make us change our ways? More should be done to eradicate our racism and the way we take it for granted that we – the white Catholics – are the superior beings on earth.

And it is not just in schools and via the media but also during mass: priests should preach more about this scourge that is taking over. And during masses, the prayers of the faithful should start tackling the issues that are tearing us apart. They should make us realise that we are not special. That our colour and religion do not make of us some privileged people.

We need to hear more against bigotry and have it highlighted in full everywhere.

There was a time when the Maltese, both at home and abroad, were seen as an inferior race. The colonisers all thought we were a breed apart – a breed of bumpkins; we were the natives, they were the better class of people. We were, in fact, their equals – just as all outsiders, all foreigners, all those who are different from us are our equals.

We need to wake up from our stupor and realise that the fabric of our society really works when we are inclusive and not bigoted.

Crying because Lassana Cisse was killed is not enough. Unless it changes us, he will have died in vain. If we do not change, we will unleash more of the demon inside us that kills whatever breeds and is different from us.

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