A man who has lived in a number of countries around the world has opened up about the difficulties of living on an island where people regularly tell you to go back to your country.
After being offered a job in Malta, Amr Wuerz, a half-German and half-Egyptian man living in Amsterdam, was excited to move here.
He had visited before, and was looking forward to a new life in a country full of “easygoing people and nice weather”… needless to say, he had high expectations of life in Malta.
“It was completely the opposite,” Amr said in a video where he explains just how unwelcome he was made to feel. Saying he became “culturally shocked after he met a number of Maltese people”, he soon realised how difficult it was to live as a foreigner in Malta.
People began telling him to go home to his country regularly as if it was an acceptable thing to say. The harassment became so severe at times that twice during the first two weeks of living here he seriously considered leaving Malta.
He had made Maltese friends and loved parts of the island, so it wasn’t easy for him to understand why he was being told to go back to his country all the time.
Amr says he was told to go back to his country over 20 times in the space of three months.
The owner of a large Labrador dog, Amr said that things got to the point where walking the block with his dog became “a hassle – walking down the street I felt like I was walking with the devil” with people scowling at him as he walked.
“I genuinely don’t know what’s the reason for the hostility towards me and my dog,” he said.
“I tried to understand it but it kinda never made sense to me. It could be rooted in ignorance or frustration that some Maltese people feel overrun by foreigners, and some cultures tend to be a bit more closed than others so they don’t take criticism well, and they don’t want foreigners coming over and doing things differently than they were doing here,’ he continued.
“It’s like they forget that the world is a melting pot.”
He recounted two specific episodes that occurred when he was walking with his dog in the St Julian’s area.
“I was in Ta’ Giorni and I was staying at an Airbnb,” he begins. “I was walking with my dog early in the morning and this lady that was hosing her driveway basically started hosing my dog.”
“I was trying to stay polite and I smiled at her and said ‘well thank you very much I understand that it is too hot and you are trying to make my dog not suffer from the heat’ and she said ‘no I am doing this because I do not want this dog walking in front of my house.'”
“One thing led to another, and then she told me to go back to my country.”
He recounts another time when he was cleaning up after his dog and Amr said a man began accosting him in the streets as he had put the leash down as he cleaned up after his dog.
Amr said the man began asking where he was from, and when he said he lived in Amsterdam, Holland, Amr said the man scoffed and didn’t believe him until he had to pull out his German passport showing that he was indeed European.
When he did show him the passport, the man told him to go back to his country.
“The problem is more difficult than not being that friendly,” says Amr from his home in Amsterdam.
“I think it’s more than Maltese people are a bit more xenophobic. Maltese people don’t mind foreigners coming over… as long as they leave as fast,” he points out.
“When I came here with my dog, they looked at me like ‘okay, he wants to stay here longer’.”
“To me, Malta feels like a restaurant that just wants to turn tables: we want to bring people in and out as fast as possible and make as much profit as possible, and send you back home before you are able to say anything, leave any criticism, or plant any kind of roots,” he ended.