[WATCH] Muscat urges integration, says 'horror story' can serve a lesson

Joseph Muscat said that the Souleymane murder should urge the Maltese to seek further integration because it was always preferable to have migrant children growing up loving Malta

Joseph Muscat at a political event in Qormi on Sunday
Joseph Muscat at a political event in Qormi on Sunday

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane, for which two young soldiers were charged, could serve a lesson to the Maltese in seeking further integration.

"We have a historical opportunity here, that from a horror story we can seed a tree of hope, that while we recognise that integration will have its problems, its always preferable and that it will solve and prevent problems from arising in the future," Muscat said.

He was speaking at a political activity in Qormi on Sunday when he said that other countries isolating immigrants into ghettos had realised the mistake they made far too late.

"When you create ghettos, these eventually become villages and then cities. When you segregate these people into ghettos, you're seeding hate and breeding criminality. Instead of feeling grateful to their host country, these people will learn to hate it," Muscat insisted.

He made a paean to integration and said that while this would have its problems, the children of immigrants who grew up Maltese should have Malta in their heart, not hate.

Speaking on the crime itself, Muscat said that violence was never justified let alone when the three immigrants, including Souleymane, who were walking home on an April night had not accosted anyone.

"They were just walking home, they were at the wrong place. We need to fix our prejudices. I myself am not a stranger to them, but we need to deal with them now and stop allowing people with extremist ideas to walk away scot-free.

"We shouldn't listen to poison and we shouldn't listen to a more refined narrative of us-versus-them and about how Malta is hosting too many foreigners," he said, referring to independent MEP candidate Norman Lowell and the Nationalist Party respectively.

"These foreigners came here to work as nurses to care for your relatives, they came to clean our country, they came to work in factories because there aren't enough Maltese to do this kind of work," he added.

Muscat said that integration is often a strange concept to several people and urged the Qormi crowd to imagine how someone covered in tattoos could get alone with a "prim-and-proper" man in a suit, or how a staunchly Catholic woman could get along with a loud-mouthed "chav."

"Start asking them questions. Ask them whether they adopted any children, ask them whether they ever donated an organ to their ill parents, ask them whether they have any relatives dying of cancer. The man covered in tattoos will step up alongside the one in a suit.

"It's not an us-versus-them. It's all of us together. We have more in common than we think," Muscat said.

He concluded by saying that he has full faith in Malta, a country that did not define itself by the hate it spread but by knowing how to love fellow human beings.

"Our heart is in the right place," he said.