The unacceptable face of racism

Norman Lowell - Imperium EuropaNorman Lowell has been seen at the forefront of a far right movement in Malta for years now. Him and his party are the Maltese equivalent of another swivel-eyed loon in the UK – Nigel Farage and the Ukip party. But while Farage has been dubbed the acceptable face of racism (as if something as horrible as racism can ever have an acceptable face), listening to Norman Lowell speak will unearth everything that is wrong about racism.

With the MEP elections coming up, Imperium Europa have stepped up their PR to try to get more votes. How do they do this? By scaring people and presenting their opinions as facts. Their YouTube channel has a running theme of “Informa ruħek” (inform yourself) and presents nothing but scaremongering.

Just in case you really want to inform yourself about migration of non EU nationals have a look at this infographic drawn up by the European Commission which, unlike the arguments of Imperium Europa, is based on actual number and statistics.

The recently banned Imperium Europa MEP advert is what you would expect from a far right party. The advert uses fear and sweeping statements to influence and is filled with racist undertones. Even though the advert says that Imperium Europa are against illegal immigration it uses images of refugees and people of colour fighting in Paceville. There is also a picture of a patient’s hand suffering from Ebola, a disease whose symptoms start within 2 days after infection. Why am I mentioning this? Because it is unlikely that anyone with this virus survives such a journey but since it looks scary and only parts of Africa are hit with this horrible virus then IE’s reasoning seems to be “might as well stick it in the advert”.

Imperium Europa saying they are against illegal immigration is misleading, especially when seeing the imagery used in the video which is meant to incite hate and fear. Many have argued against the decision to ban the video saying this is curtailing freedom of speech, but freedom of speech is not universal and hate speech does not fall under it.

What is really worrying about the story is the fact that the Broadcasting Authority approved the video and only after public outcry did it decide to ban it.

The video is available elsewhere, on Facebook and YouTube. I’m sharing it (and I have given this a lot of thought) because anyone with two brain cells can find it and because I cannot stand this having 15 thumbs up on YouTube and only 2 thumbs down. Comments are also disabled on the video (surprise, surprise).

Below is the banned advert, however if you do choose to watch it and feel like Imperium Europa might have a point then you owe it to yourself to have a look at the picture and video further down.

The picture is a screen grab from a video released by an Italian newspapers La Repubblica. In it you can see two victims of the sunken boat off Lampedusa, a man and a woman hugging each other. Death is what migrants from Africa face when crossing the Mediterranean sea. Pushbacks, which is what Imperium Europa stand for, is a barbaric act.

Lampedusa tragedy

The images in the video below are disturbing so please proceed with caution.

Finally, I know I will probably get bombarded through the comments section by Imperium Europa fans for this post. I will be removing any comments which break the rules of common decency. Remember that your freedom of speech is not universal.

 

10 most shocking comments on Cecilia Malmstrom’s Facebook Page

For all this talk about patriotism and nationalism I am surely feeling ashamed of being Maltese, and this is not the first time in the past few days. Never have I seen such abusive behavior online, especially on Facebook. Even during the general elections there was a more serene feel when browsing through comments. All this abuse is being thrown about on Cecilia Malmstrom Facebook page. She is the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs and during the MT Salamis debacle pleaded to Malta to take in the 120 immigrants rescued at sea.

Once again the Government decided to stomp its feet and the immigrants were sent to Italy. Yet what happened after this decision was taken sent a cold shiver down my spine. A considerable amount of Maltese took to Malmstrom’s Facebook page to shout out their opinion. Their opinion being;

  1. The why don’t you take them yourself argument,
  2. The we are Maltese, no one steps on us, argument, and
  3. Abuse, lots of it.

This is shameful, and frankly, useless. The only thing this flock of sheep is managing to do is show what a xenophobic nation the Maltese really are – and this not just to the rest of us, who are sitting here reading these comments incredulously, but to the rest of the world.

Thankfully Cecilia Malmstrom’s page seems to be well maintained and most of the abuse is being deleted. However going through the hundreds of comments you still find the shocking utterance here and there. Here are a list of the 10 most shocking comments I could find.

Shocking comments on Ceciliam Malmstrom's page

Special mention goes out to this person (below comment) who posted something like 17 times on Malmstron’s page. What annoys me most about this breed of people is this presumption of speaking for the rest of us in Malta.

image 2

I understand that this has nothing to do with politics – red, blue, whatever – but there does seem to be this feeling that it is OK to do this because the Prime Minister is on ‘our’ side.

image 3

Joseph Muscat better take his own advice and wake up to smell the coffee. A stratum of Maltese people are showing off their true colours – pure ignorance and racism that is – because they are misreading your message (yes I’m giving the benefit of the doubt). It is high time for the Prime Minister to start condemning such talk.

This post has been amended to remove the names of those who spouted such abuse on Malmstrom’s page becuase apparently a lot of people are OK to dish it but then cannot take it.

Standing up does not mean acting without compassion. Pushbacks are not the asnwer.

 

Immigration in Malta - we are all human beingsI am sad. I actually feel like someone has hit me in the stomach. Yesterday, for the first time in eons, I felt ashamed of being Maltese. I felt ashamed of being part of that country which was going to send back immigrants to possibly torture or death (even the possibility of this happening should make a decent human being take a step back and think about those consequences), without the chance to seek refugee or asylum seeker status. I felt disgusted by the fact that so many ‘Chatholics’ and ‘dogooders’ on my Facebook page were spouting racist comments and engaging in this ‘I do this because I am patriotic’ sham. Yes, a sham! A sham fuelled by none other than the Prime Minister of Malta.

The Prime Minister’s idea of how to tackle this issue seems to be a bunch of buzzwords scattered at every opportune moment, amongst others the; “We will be compassionate with those who are vulnerable but strong with politicians.”

Instead of taking the hard decision, we have a government that bitches and moans, threatens to use the veto on unrelated matters in the EU – like a kid throwing a tantrum because mummy wouldn’t buy him chocolate, and then plays a very dangerous game of chess using human lives.

Yesterday evening the government had 2 Airmalta planes waiting to take off sending back the 200 immigrants which arrived in Malta this week. Bravo! That is definitely one way of being compassionate with those who are vulnerable.

To add insult to injury we have the know-it-alls on Facebook continuing to fuel all this misinformation about immigration. If only these big mouths would have the decency to check the facts before hitting that send button.  As Caroline Muscat says in her blog;

“The number of people actually living in Malta is 30 per cent, or 5,000 of the 16,617 who arrived by boat since 2002 according to government figures. In no way does that constitute a flood or a national security threat.”

This is not about being blue or red, black or white, this is all about knowing what is right and what is wrong. Sending people back to face possible torture and even death is WRONG.

Yes immigration is a problem, and it will stretch Malta’s resources but choosing the easy way out is just not on. How would you even sleep at night knowing you sent a human being to face torture and death? And this is not just a question I pose to the politicians but to all those who have been vociferous and in favor of pushbacks. Seriously, where has your humanity gone?

My two cents can only describe how I feel and what I think about the matter. If you would like to read a few exceptional blogs on the issue of immigration check out Akkuza, MarkBiwwa and as mentioned above Caroline Muscat’s blog.