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Far right 'hijacked' Marsa residents' demonstration, mayors say

Local council mayors said they will boycott a ‘solidarity walk’ with Marsa residents, which they say was taken over by forces such as Movimenti Patrijotti Maltin

Denise Grech
16 September 2017, 1:15pm
Last updated on 17 September 2017, 12:18pm
Marsa residents have organised a solidarity walk in light of
Marsa residents have organised a solidarity walk in light of "lawlessness" in the area, which they say is propogated by African migrants living there (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Maltese mayors will not be attending a demonstration by Marsa residents billed as a “solidarity march” over residents’ concerns with African migrants in the area, because it had been hijacked by the far right.

The president of the Local Councils Association, Mario Fava, said that Marsa, Ħamrun, Raħal Ġdid, Msida and Floriana mayors will not be attending the walk.

The walk was called by residents who claimed a heightened increase in illegalities committed by residents of the Marsa open centre for asylum seekers.

But Fava told MaltaToday that “racist forces”, such as far-right Moviment Patrijotti Maltin, had taken over the demonstration, after posting announcements on Facebook that the party will be attending the walk surfaced online.

“Our heart is in the right place,” Fava said. According to the event posted on social media, the walk was originally intentioned to pressure the government to increase security in the area.

Recent police raids however, have rendered the walk redundant, Fava said. “After the recent commitment shown from the government, the mayors from the relevant areas have decided that the aim of the walk has already been reached,” he continued.

Talks are being held with the Commissioner of Police to ensure that security forces continue frequent patrols in the area.

But the raids recently led by police in the area have been accused of being racially-profiled, with police specifically targeting black residents in Marsa to demand identification papers.

Earlier this week, the ministry for home affairs and national security could not specifically furnish MaltaToday with data of how many raids or police searches were carried out by police in Marsa, requesting identification.

The same data was requested for previous years, as well as whether similar requests were made in towns like Sliema and St Julian’s, where thousands of European workers live and work.

“Frequent inspections are carried out by various sections of the Malta Police Force at different localities all the year round. These inspections also include immigration checks on any foreigners to confirm or otherwise whether they are living legally in Malta. These inspections are not only carried out in localities indicated below, but also in many other locations. There are also instances when the police are accompanied by Jobsplus inspectors,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.