A Facebook post which appeared on Sunday afternoon has gone viral, with over 100 shares in the first 24 hours. The people resharing the original post, however, are clearly split between comments of pity and hate, and that’s because the photo is of a homeless person in Marsa.
On Sunday, just before 1pm, a photo was shared of what appears to be a man wrapped from head to toe in a thin bedsheet and lying on some open cardboard boxes.
“Look what we have in Marsa,” the post said. “You go down to the swings with your children and you find this thing (“ħaġu”) sleeping there. It’s not just that; his bottle of water is open next to him, with the tap on the wall behind him. What if a young boy would go drink from it? So can’t anyone do something about this? Are we going to continue like this? We can’t go anywhere, they’re getting on everyone’s nerves now (“qażżew l-Alla issa”).”
The initial reaction followed the original post’s sentiments exactly. “What do you want them to do, if these people are treated better than us in our own country?” one comment said.
“Help them? Help Maltese people first, who knows these people?” another person said. “OUT… Black people, Arabs, Filipinos are the only thing we’ve got running around and they’re taking our jobs and stealing our lives”.
Henry Battistino, the leader of Moviment Patrijotti Maltin who contested the last general election, shared the post a couple of hours after it went live, captioning it with the words, “The degradation continues…” There, more comments followed, from people urging him to organise another peaceful protest to people saying, “The Maltese made their own bed… now you sleep in it.”
(Note: many of these comments are now unavailable because the original post was deleted / removed from Public)
Other people who shared the original post, however, had something very different to say.
“What wrong did this person do to you?” one comment said. “Did he hurt you in any way for you to say all these mean things?” “No mercy, very disgusting words, help him instead,” another said.
“First of all, that ħaġu is a person and he needs a roof above his head,” one user said. “What is the problem – and I believe there is a problem in Marsa – you don’t call humans ĦAĠU. Anyone can end up in that situation,” another commented.
“This person is wrapped like a cocoon,” another person said. “If you had taken the trouble to identify this person, would you have made the same remarks if you found out he’s a local person? While it is annoying, it is also sad. Out of the frying pan into the fire. Some Christian mercy goes a long way. Bless you.