Fancy a €1,500 trip, destination unknown?

Sarcasm lost on Maltese stopped by ‘Pushback Airlines’ promoters in Valletta to raise awareness about migrants seeking help.

Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday
Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday

Under the scorching heat in Valletta, four young women dressed as airhostesses set up a stall promoting the fictitious 'Pushback Airlines' - an airline which takes you to an unknown destination, with no documents required.

The aim behind the innovative idea is to raise awareness on why migrants flee their countries and the dangerous conditions they travel in.

Clad in matching uniforms, orange scarf included, Sarah Mallia, Sarah Spiteri, Mahira Sheikh and Anna Bugeja also carried out a survey to see which continent was the "odd one out" according to passers-by and which ethnicity would be "most welcome" to Malta.

"While most opted for European as their preferred choice, respondents still said that everyone would be welcome to Malta," Sheikh said.

She said the aim of the questions was to show respondents that there was no "odd-one-out" continent.

Mallia, 24, explained how the four friends came together following the increase in xenophobic and racist discourse on social network sites in the past weeks.

"We feel the politicians and the media have sensationalised the issue and have not provided the public with the facts. We are trying to fill up that void by providing facts as well," she said.

The four women also distributed fact sheets on migration in numbers, figures of migrants who have been granted protection and information about human rights and dignity.

"The lack of information has led to fear," Mallia added.

In order to show the risks those seeking protection in a foreign land go through, the girls also distributed flyers promoting the 'Pushback Airlines' - a jibe at Prime Minister Joseph Muscat's provocative action to deport a group of 45 asylum seekers. The pushback was blocked by an interim measure from the European Court of Human Rights.

The flyer, advertising "an unforgettable trip worth €1,500", promotes an unknown destination on a fishing boat, requiring no documentation, and during which passengers will 'get the chance to be considered a threat' while also enjoying the 'adventurous experience' of having a gun pointed at their heads.

But according to Sarah Spiteri, who's 'responsible of the promotion', actually had passers-by inquiring why no food or drinks were part of the package without realising the whole setup was a performance to attract attention.

"Although there were many who realised this was not a fantasy trip and admitted to not knowing the risks migrants actually go through, there were others who didn't see through the satire at all and said they would be taking the flyer home to read through it properly," she said.

I would not mind having some Morsi supporters here,especially those who are burning Christian churches; or a few from Hizbollah. I might even feel at ease with Al Qaida members fighting in Syria or a few Muslim brotherhood from neighboring Tunisia, or Beghazi. How about getting some of the Somali pirates who have killed innocent sailors and crewmen from cargo ships? They would all-if it were for them- kill me instantly cause I am an infidel. But then who cares? I am an insular Maltese who wants to live the rest of his life in peace: and this, for some in Malta is a sin!
If they have the guts they should follow the FEMEN protest groups and not get involved in such initiatives which are useless and lead nowhere.
What these young ladies are trying to achieve is admirable and I really am impressed by their initiative. I once believed exactly the same ...but decades of living overseas in another continent and seeing lots of migrants and refugees coming in, I have witnessed the upheaval that is caused when immigrants , refugees or otherwise fail it integrate into their adoptive homes. Sometimes the issue is not the host country but the guest who seeks to try to impose on their adoptive homes the culture or laws from which they ran away to begin with... The problem grows bigger and bigger until you have a melting pot of searing emotions and misunderstandings ..... Whilst one you had a country which had unity and crime was unheard of, now it is a common occurrence and values which held society together start to fray.... " all are welcome" is really wonderful but you have to wisdom who it is that you are welcoming to begin with or you will regret it later ..
Making a parody out of the nation's illegal immigration problem is bound to get us nowhere.