The rise of van­dal­ism and graf­fiti in St Paul’s Bay area raises con­cerns on in­te­gra­tion

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - ■ Julian Bon­nici

Re­cent in­ci­dents of van­dal­ism show that the gov­ern­ment needs to cre­ate a na­tional ac­tion plan ded­i­cated to the in­te­gra­tion of mi­grants into Mal­tese com­mu­ni­ties in or­der to bridge the cul­tural and lin­guis­tic gaps, St Paul’s Bay Mayor Gra­ziella Galea told The Malta In­de­pen­dent.

Ms Galea was re­spond­ing to ques­tions re­gard­ing the re­cent in­crease of van­dal­ism and graf­fiti in Bugibba, St Paul’s Bay and Qawra.

The lo­cal­i­ties have been faced with a num­ber with of­fences with the Christmas tree in Bugibba Square and a num­ber of walls and signs hav­ing have been van­dalised over the past cou­ple of months.

To com­bat the re­cent spike in crime, po­lice su­per­vi­sion has been in­creased in the area and will re­main in place un­til the per­pe­tra­tors are caught, Ms Galea said.

The graf­fiti found in the area is mostly writ­ten in Ser­bian, and, ac­cord­ing to a trans­la­tor, it reads “Hunt­ing sea­son is open”, which is a taunt be­tween Bel­grade foot­ball teams, and, ac­cord­ing to sources, had raised lo­cal con­cerns that there may be some con­flict be­tween com­mu­ni­ties in the area.

The area, whose for­eign pop­u­la­tion makes up about a third of the com­mu­nity, has ex­pe­ri­enced ten­sions be­tween the dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties.

As re­cently as Oc­to­ber, Movi­ment Pa­tri­jotti Maltin or­gan­ised a protest against what they were claim­ing was the build­ing of an il­le­gal mosque in Bugibba. How­ever, all it in­volved was the change of use and sanc­tion­ing of a garage into a prayer room.

The lo­cal coun­cil ob­jected to the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.

For Ms Galea, lan­guage, cul­ture and re­li­gion are bar­ri­ers be­tween proper in­te­gra­tion, it was for this rea­son she pointed to St Paul’s Bay Pri­mary School as the best ex­am­ple of how spe­cial in­te­gra­tion can be. Here, she says, chil­dren are able to for­get what makes them dif­fer­ent from one an­other and al­lows them to fo­cus on their sim­i­lar­i­ties.

Photos: Jonathan Borg

Gra­ziella Galea

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