In Hamrun, Muscat talks integration with help of black Maltese teen Thea Mizzi

Malta has ‘historic’ chance to discuss integration in wake of Lassana Cisse Souleymane’s murder - Prime Minister

Joseph Muscat (right) in conversation with Thea Mizzi after her speech in Hamrun
Joseph Muscat (right) in conversation with Thea Mizzi after her speech in Hamrun

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat too with him a message of tolerance to Hamrun, a locality in which the far-right Patriots are fielding two local council candidates, with the help of black teenager Thea Mizzi, of Zebbug – an enduring image of the changing face of Malta and how political parties are reflecting this.

With two young AFM soldiers charged with the racially-motivated murder of Ivorian migrant worker Lassane Cisse Souleymane, Muscat said this was a historic opportunity “to start speaking about integration”. 

Muscat, conscious of Hamrun’s sensitivity on problems of neighbourliness with down-and-out migrants and asylum seekers from the nearby Marsa open centre, told a Labour rally that he knew the Maltese could not accept that a man be murdered simply for being black. 

His speech followed that of Mizzi, who was adopted from Ethiopia together with her sister. “Some people told me it might be dangerous for her [Mizzi] to speak in Hamrun, since the people in the area might not take it well,” Muscat said. 

“I am certain, however, that every one of us, after hearing the news [about the arrest of two soldiers in connection with Lassana’s murder], realise that we cannot ever accept that a person is killed simply for being different.” 

“I believe we have a chance, almost a historical one, speak about integration, while ensuring that everyone observed the law.” 

He said racial tensions would not be solved by “fencing black people off”. 

“Integration should start from band and sport clubs, from our school and from within our families,” he said, taking a cue from Mizzi’s own activism in Zebbug’s St Philip feast. 

In clear reference to Nazi apologist Norman Lowell, Muscat warned his listeners not to treat the far-right firebrand as a joker. “We might laugh [at Lowell], but this has introduced a poison into our country, and we’re seeing its effects now,” he said. “This tragic event teaches Malta a lesson, the fruits of which it could benefit from for years to come.” 

Muscat has been accused of having presided over an unprecedented influx of migrant labour, in both highly-skilled and unskilled jobs, while having prevented migrant rescue ships from departing Maltese ports to effect rescues at sea. 

But the PM claimed Malta had been transformed from a country nobody cared to visit to one “everyone wants to come to”. 

Again he used his political platform to draw a comparison with Opposition leader Adrian Delia. “Who do you trust to solve these problems, Joseph Muscat or Adrian Delia? Next Saturday is a choice between myself and the Opposition leader.”