Before we start throwing the racism tag, let us first start off by defining racism. So what is racism? Racism is defined as the “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” Racism normally manifests itself from insecurity, fear and distaste towards those who are different.
Over the past days, the racism discussion gained speed due to the tragedy of a killed immigrant, the number of foreigners coming in and the MEP elections. The cold-blooded murder of Ivorian Lassine Souleymane caught the country by storm and many suspect that the murder was racially motivated. This obviously puts into question the safety of Malta as a country for foreigners.
In Malta, we have a number of people complaining that we are being overrun with foreigners, both ones of different skin colour and also those from neighbouring European countries. So what are the main scenarios or discussion themes where you are likely to hear racist comments?
When it comes to illegal immigration, you are likely to hear comments that we cannot keep taking in immigrants from Africa, even if their country is plagued with famine, violence and terror. There are those who argue that the difference in cultures and way of life make it impossible for such groups to integrate into a modern, European society. Would you say that such an opinion is racist since it implies that one race is superior to the other? More extreme opinions state that illegal immigrants should be physically stopped from entering into Maltese waters, a death sentence in itself as there is no way a boat can turn back to Africa following such a long journey. With that said, the illegal immigration argument has been going on for quite a number of years, basically ever since we became part of the European Union.
One of the arguments which may lead to racist comments is the insecurity that foreigners are taking our jobs. To a certain extent, one can indeed notice that a lot of jobs that were taken by the Maltese are now filled by foreigners. You will notice this in several catering establishments such as restaurants and hotels where a number of Europeans from low performing economies are coming to Malta in a bid to salvage their financial future. Such Europeans are willing to work with inferior conditions, which indeed poses a threat to Maltese people seeking jobs in these industries.
Maltese people are also fearful of the foreigners coming to Malta due to economic growth. Whilst the incoming foreigners do indeed contribute to our prosperity, some segments of the population still feel as if their country and its customs are changing.
What do you think about the attitudes of the Maltese towards foreigners? Are we racist or simply rightfully concerned?