The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

TMID Editorial - Coronavirus: Racism and frustration

Tuesday, 7 April 2020, 08:32 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government’s announcement to quarantine the Hal Far Open Centre was one that needed to be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of the public at large.

However, one must also ponder on a few things. The grouping of so many people in such a crowded area, six-people to a room at times, is a breeding ground for the virus to spread. Perhaps once the pandemic passes, one would need to rethink the layout of the open centres, and make better accommodation arrangements for these migrants who fled persecution and war in their home countries. Would you want to live in the ‘tent village’?


While making it clear that the residents will be given equal medical treatment to all other people, and that the decision was not taken based on race, colour, or religion, and that the virus does not discriminate, some elements of Maltese society opted to ignore this and blast out racist comments regardless. The government emphasised that there is no room for racism in Malta.

One such comment seen by this newsroom, refers to the migrants residing at the Open Centre as a ‘group of gorillas’ and tells everyone that ‘they will kill us with disease.’ If ever there was a comment made by a disgusting human being, it’s this one.

Everyone is human, everyone is a person, and everyone deserves equal treatment. Racism has been a problem in the country for many, many years, but we must remember that Malta’s success economically was only achieved thanks to foreign workers. Indeed when the Maltese began moving to higher-end jobs, many foreign workers began to be employed in, for example, the waste collection sector, the restaurant and tourism sectors.

It is pertinent to note that the virus in Malta was mainly spread by Maltese and Europeans, not migrants of different skin colour, and thus any racist comments are made purely out of personal prejudice and no other reason.

Yesterday marked the one-year since the brutal senseless murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane, 42, of which two soldiers - Francesco Fenech and Lorin Scicluna - have been charged with the murder. Let us not forget what such feelings of hatred and fear based purely on colour can result in. Indeed a ceremony by Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar paying respect to Souleymane was a clear message that racial hatred is wrong, and does not represent the Maltese people.

Racist comments spread racial hatred, which then leads to racial tension and violence. Does the country really want more bloodshed. Think before you post.

The current situation in the country has also raised the level of frustration in everyone. Indeed, some comments passed on Facebook over the past days have been hurtful to others, and here we are not just talking about comments related to racial hatred.

It is understandable that people are frustrated, stuck inside only leaving their homes for certain errands and work. But at the same time let us not get into the mentality of taking out our frustration on others. Everyone is going through the same thing, not just locally, but around the world. The virus will pass, but some things said might not be able to be forgiven.

Words could be just as heavy as rock, and could cut just as deeply as a knife.


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