The Maltese government is ramping up its efforts to clamp down on crime by African immigrants in Marsa so as to stop far-right parties riding the wave of a residents’ protest scheduled for this Sunday.
Yesterday morning, the local councils of Marsa and Ħamrun held a meeting with police commissioner Laurence Cutajar, National Security Minister Michael Farrugia, representatives of Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli, parliamentary secretary for the local council Silvio Parnis, and the Local Councils Association.
The three-hour meeting had originally been scheduled for next week as part of a series of meetings between ministers and individual local councils. However, it was pushed forward upon the request of the Local Councils Association so as to pre-empt Sunday’s protest.
“We found out residents were organising a protest on Sunday and our fear, which was reciprocated by the government, was that extreme elements were going to ride the wave of residents’ genuine concerns so as to push forward their agenda,” the Association’s president Mario Fava told Lovin Malta. “We decided to push forward this meeting by a week, so as to anticipate this wave of the far-right.”
The protest’s Facebook event description merely calls on Maltese people to join Marsa residents in pressuring the government to take action and to “give Marsa residents their dignity back”.
However, it is already clear the protest will have a tinge of anti- African immigration sentiment about it. The anti-immigration ‘Patriots’ party will be present at the walk, and its leader Henry Battistino has warned all Malta risks “becoming like Marsa, Bugibba, Msida, Hamrun and Birzebbugia”.
Shortly after yesterday’s meeting, the police conducted a series of raids near the Marsa Open Centre and the parish square, randomly approaching black people in the street and demanding to see their identification papers in what was a clear act of racial profiling.
Fava – a Swieqi PL local councillor – insisted the raid had been scheduled from beforehand and had not been ordered to pre-empt Sunday’s protest.
However, he said the government has agreed to start posting new police cadets on the streets of Marsa and other “problematic” areas (namely St Julian’s and Bugibba) as of November. Moreover, the process of shutting down the Marsa Open Centre and relocating its residents to the open centre in Ħal Far has already started, and ten such immigrants have already been relocated.