The Malta Independent 5 March 2024, Tuesday
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The lost battle of the warriors

Noel Grima Sunday, 11 February 2024, 07:00 Last update: about 22 days ago

The legion of desktop warriors among us has yet to wake up and realise: it has lost the battle to preserve Malta's identity as a small island nation embedded in the Christian tradition.

There was a time when the battle could be fought in a different way but that opportunity, if there ever was one, has gone by.

We are now what we can see every day around us - a tiny island with a massive density of population and above all a multicultural country.

Only those with blinkers on do not see this. The island bygone mentality is still prevalent and emerges with virulence at every least provocation.

Only recently a peaceful and colourful celebration of Santo Nino by the Latino group came under attack by hordes of desktop warriors with such violence that the Home Affairs Minister had to intervene in protest.

Apart from the Latinos, there are other cultural groups in today's Malta and they all have their cultural celebration - the Indians have Divali, etc. Other groups are more church-centred, such as the Ethiopian community which congregates around a Catholic church in Valletta.

And so on and so forth. The huge Muslim community congregates around the Paola mosque and reportedly other centres.

There are huge lessons to be learned here - all this massive explosion of people has happened with next to none tension - except in the minds and desktops of the warriors. Above anything else we must preserve this multicultural peace.

We must realise we are all in it together and it's up to each one of us to make living in Malta a better experience than it is now.

At the very least we must be careful not to exacerbate things by our actions and our words. Words especially can be particularly inflammatory.

One basic principle that must be the rule of every person who lives in Malta is the basic equality of each one with the same rights and the same duties.

There lies in these innocuous words a terrible challenge and problem - there can be no real equality unless this somehow translates to political equality through the exercise of suffrage.

Otherwise we will remain anchored in the Dubai template of the natives on a superior level and the foreign workers with no rights at all.

But Malta's multicultural reality is fundamentally different. The people who have come in are partners, not slaves. Slowly slowly once they have a residence permit and pay their taxes they can be cured at the local hospital (though it has become too small today), their children attend free schools, etc.

This mix enriches them - think how their career progression can be helped through their participation in the workforce. It also enriches us, if well planned and managed. Of course, we may lose many of them if through their experience and work in Malta they get to find a better job somewhere else. This is a risk we have to take.

There is one other consideration to make - one the minister himself made. If we had to do without migrants who will collect our rubbish, who will clean our hospitals, take care of our sick and elderly etc? This is one consideration that the desktop warriors regularly miss - unless they find themselves in need.

Again, as time goes by, today's children will become tomorrow's students, clamouring for more professional studies and more and better opportunities. At this point we will need to reinforce the basic equality. The worst thing we can do is to deepen the basic injustice.

Lastly, we must tackle the injustices in the accommodation sector, which is leading to people crowding together in accommodation that is unfit to begin with.

And we must enforce equal pay for equal work. Migrants are not slaves to be exploited. The desktop warriors rarely touch this point, is that because they agree with this discrimination?

 

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