PM: ‘Let’s not push our migrants into the mouth of terror’

Joseph Muscat: ‘There is too much racism in Malta, and it will come back to haunt us’

File photo: Joseph Muscat at the Freedom Day memorial in Birgu
File photo: Joseph Muscat at the Freedom Day memorial in Birgu

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat delivered one of his strongest speeches ever on the eve of Freedom Day, calling on the Maltese to change their attitudes towards migrants and warning that failure to integrate migrant workers could push them towards extremism.

Muscat was in Birgu to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Freedom Day, when the last British forces left the Maltese islands on 31 March, 1979.

In his speech, Muscat referred to the attacks in Paris and Brussels and questioned what went through young people who had suddenly taken the drastic course of action to commit a suicide attack on innocent bystanders.

“We are partially at fault here,” Muscat said. “We have created a system that isolates people and minorities in ghettoes. This is absolute hypocrisy.

“We are preaching inclusion but leaving minorities feeling they are still foreigners in their own country.

“In Malta, black people are only tolerated as far as the Marsa roundabout where they are left to beg for work,” Muscat said, whose government has yet to deliver on a temping agency for migrant workers.

“There is too much racism in the country… while we have the luxury of ignoring this, it will come back to haunt us in 10 years’ time, as is the case with other European countries. Future generations will question why we didn’t learn from the mistakes of other European countries.”

Muscat also welcomed the fact that half of all new jobs were being taken up by foreign workers. Channelling former Labour prime minister Dom Mintoff, who had said he wanted to see a Malta creating so many jobs that it employs foreigners, Muscat said: “We are now living that reality.”

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