Pa­tri­otic or anti-Mus­lim?

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Peace­ful co­ex­is­tence is once again un­der at­tack.

To­mor­row, the Pa­tri­jotti Maltin are to hold a protest in Qawra to protest against the de­mand by the Mus­lim com­mu­nity there for a prayer build­ing.

There is in this case a strong echo of what hap­pened at Msida some months ago when the Mus­lims be­gan to hold prayer meet­ings in the square in front of the church be­cause, they said, they were re­fused an of­fer of a pri­vate venue for their prayers and, as they said, Paola Hill was too far away for them.

As a re­sult of that po­ten­tially dif­fi­cult flash point, and af­ter the me­di­a­tion of some min­is­ters, the Mus­lims were of­fered use of L’Ospizio in Flo­ri­ana. There they re­main, it seems, and the po­ten­tial clash at the Msida square was de­fused. Now, in what seems to be a copy of the Msida stand-off, the Mus­lims have taken to hold their prayer meet­ings mostly out of door. And pre­dictably the Pa­tri­jotti will be fol­low­ing them there to op­pose their de­mand for a mosque or prayer build­ing. Again, and pos­si­bly with more rea­son, they refuse to be made to travel all the way to Paola.

One as­sumes that the Pa­tri­jotti have ob­tained po­lice per­mis­sion to hold the protest and one also as­sumes that the bla­tant and crim­i­nal anti-Mus­lim be­hav­iour of the Msida protest

Ed­i­tor’s pick

(such as ridi­cul­ing the Mus­lim ban on pork) will not be al­lowed.

The is­sue how­ever will not be re­solved by protest and counter-protests.

Bugibba, Qawra and St Paul’s Bay are to­day one of the most cul­tur­ally and eth­ni­cal­lymixed lo­cal­i­ties in Malta. The pri­mary school there has the most di­verse chil­dren in its class­rooms in Malta, speak­ing so many lan­guages and yet play­ing with each other and re­lat­ing to each other in ways that only chil­dren seem to be ca­pa­ble of.

There are, of course, mul­ti­ple is­sues in­volved in this protest, lay­ers upon lay­ers of sin­gle is­sues from bedrock an­tag­o­nism to­wards migrants, tense re­la­tions be­tween dif­fer­ent eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, all the way to in­te­gra­tion and as­sim­i­la­tion. Pres­i­dent Coleiro Preca asked to meet the dif­fer­ent lead­ers of the com­mu­ni­ties. The Do­mini­can fathers in Val­letta have of­fered to throw open their build­ings in Val­letta so that the Mus­lims can hold their re­li­gious ob­ser­vances.

In these days of quite sim­i­lar tense flash­points in many other coun­tries – from Ger­many to France, there is mis­chief in the air and the sit­u­a­tion may de­gen­er­ate, which will makes us all so much worse.

The is­sue has been swept un­der the car­pet for many years with so many of­fi­cial re­fusals to do any­thing about it, from the num­ber of migrants ar­riv­ing in Malta, to many peo­ple who should not have been al­lowed to stay some­how evad­ing and stay­ing. Many migrants, mus­lim or not, are de­cent lawabid­ing peo­ple who work hard to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies. As usual in any group of peo­ple, there are also some bad ap­ples among them. The group op­pos­ing them is not much dif­fer­ent from the ex­treme-Right any­where in Europe. We are see­ing how, all over Europe, such groups are grow­ing and grow­ing and now look poised to en­ter govern­ment in so many coun­tries in Europe.

The ex­pe­ri­ence of so many other coun­tries shows us there is prob­a­bly no clear way of com­pos­ing the is­sue. Malta is, for all its faults and de­fi­cien­cies, still a Chris­tian coun­try and its his­tory for the past mil­len­nium or so has been in the fore­front of the bat­tle to safe­guard Chris­tian Europe. For all that, our DNA, our lan­guage, our men­tal­ity is typ­i­cally Mid­dle East­ern. The way ahead must be to en­sure that any per­son who is in Malta shares the same fun­da­men­tal at­ti­tude – though not nec­es­sar­ily the same faith – and val­ues and ac­knowl­edges the pri­mary im­por­tance of Mal­tese her­itage.

Con­fronta­tions and/or clashes do not con­trib­ute to this, nor does sweep­ing the is­sues un­der a car­pet.

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