Tensions In Malta

Staying well below the media radar is another European state struggling with illegal immigration. I don’t know enough about Malta or the political climate to offer any opinion, but, I will offer that there is a pattern in the non-coverage given to these problems by the western media. The issues facing the Dutch in the wake of the Van Gogh murder, “Action Sweep Out” in Germany and this incident all share a common theme. Times of Malta, Jan.19;

Malta came under intense international criticism yesterday following last week’s incidents between army personnel and illegal immigrants at the Safi Barracks.

Speaking to The Times while accompanying the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, in talks with the European Commission in Brussels, Raymond Hall, the UNHCR’s European Bureau director, said the UN agency was “deeply concerned about the apparent use of excessive force by Maltese soldiers when breaking up a peaceful demonstration by asylum seekers and irregular immigrants last week”.


Mr Hall said the UNHCR was shocked with the incidents especially since people had to be hospitalised following a peaceful protest. In the context of what happened, the UNHCR reiterates its advice that Malta should re-examine its detention policy, which involves mandatory detention for as long as 18 months and is by far the strictest in Europe.

He said: “The UNHCR is strongly opposed to the practice of mandatory detention, whereby asylum seekers are routinely detained until such time as they are recognised as refugees”.

[…] “The UNHCR has discussed Malta’s detention policies and conditions with the authorities on a number of occasions over the past couple of years. Last June, the UNHCR submitted a detailed report to the authorities which outlined a wide range of shortcomings in the four detention centres and contained numerous recommendations for changes.

“Despite a number of official letters requesting further dialogue, the UNHCR has to date received no official written response from the Maltese authorities.”

The UNHCR spokesman said his organisation fully appreciates Malta’s concerns that, given its proximity to major smuggling routes from North Africa, it risks being overburdened with asylum seekers and irregular migrants. However, he added, the High Commission does not believe such concerns warrant detention as a deterrent.

Keeping in mind my aforementioned disclaimer, I think that a country only 8 miles wide and 15 miles long, and within rafting distance of northern Africa might be extended the benefit of the doubt for creating strong deterents to illegal immigration. [CIA Factbook: Malta]

Not that everyone is rushing to apologize;

Norman Lowell the fiery leader of the far-right Imperium Europa, said yesterday that illegal immigrants not only threatened Malta’s security, but also posed a “sanitary, cultural and genetic” threat to the country.

[…] Mr Lowell started his speech by attacking the media for being “against the army and the boys in blue”. Waving a stick in the air from time to time, he said the media were controlled by “those who know where true power lies”.

“It’s the media which control and twist public opinion,” Mr Lowell claimed, adding that the media were responsible for painting a negative picture of him. “I am a libertarian and not a Nazi or a Fascist,” he said.

Mr Lowell said Malta is the only country that still had a “homogenous” race. The rest of Europe, from Ireland to Poland, was “contaminated” and it would not be long before Europeans would want to come here to experience the “real spirituality”.

“This is why we have to annihilate the black coal,” Mr Lowell said.

A group of men, who all wore sunglasses and caps, the collars of their jackets covering their chins, clapped heartily when Mr Lowell mentioned the Brigadier of the Armed Forces. Mr Lowell said that at this point, the AFM commander should not resign “even if he had the gravest of personal problems”.

Mr Lowell said the authorities were secretly going to change the law so that illegal immigrants would have a renewable visa to stay in Malta. He attacked Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who said recently that an immigrants’ centre should be set up in Malta. “I will find Mr Frattini in Brussels and he will have to apologise publicly,” Mr Lowell shouted.

Immigrants entering Malta on boats should be stopped 14 miles offshore and warned not to come ashore, Mr Lowell said. The upcoming conference on illegal immigration would turn out to be yet another farce, with Government and Opposition on one side and the NGOs, who “have nothing better to do”, on the other, he said.

Mr Lowell finished his speech by raising his stick in the air and crying “Ave!”


More at the Maltese blogs Immanuel Mifsud and Toni Sant.

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Kate McMillan
About Kate McMillan
Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. This related piece from BBC news was given some prominence a few days ago:

    However, as you say, the common theme is there for all to see.

    Your entry is featured here:

  2. DC Loser says:

    It’s more like non-coverage by US media. The BBC and French media had extensive coverage of the efforts to keep illegal immigrants out of the Chunnel entrance in France and the status of the immigrant camp nearby. I also recall the constant reports of Albanians coming across the Adriatic to Italy. The flow of economic migrants isn’t anything new, but publicity of this sort only give people like LePen and Lowell a platform to spew more of their ideology.

  3. Lt Bell says:

    spewing ideology!

    Oh My!

  4. John says:

    Maltese is considered by linguists to be a dialect of Arabic, albeit more distinct than, say, Egyptian v. Levantine Arabic. The population is as homogenous as a mongrel, combining Arabs, Berbers, Italians, Greeks, and assorted invaders over its considerable history.

    That said, there is certainly something to be said for trying to maintain a currently identifiable Maltese culture and not letting it get diluted by accident of history.

  5. DC Loser says:


    Point taken on maintaining an identity. But let’s take history as a continuum, I would assume every group in its time has tried to maintain its identity, but over time things conspire to change it. The current Maltese identity wouldn’t be what it is if it hadn’t been influenced by migration patterns over the millenia. One could say those “accidents of history” were what made them who they are today.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Lt Bell,

    What would you call what Lowell is doing? As far as I can tell, he’s a racist nut case. But things like this give him a platform to foam at the mouth and get him on TV. He’s using all the right neo-nazi buzzwords in that article, so his disclaimer is pretty unconvincing.

  7. John says:

    DC Loser: Of course! I merely note that people tend to resist change, particularly change that they do not instigate themselves.

    I’m bemused by the way some immigrants move to a place because it either offers opportunities that do not exist in the place they’re leaving, or have benefits that do not exist in the homeland, then try to replicate the conditions they just left. Whether it’s done to “protect ethnic identity” or simply resistence to change on the part of the immigrant, they seem not to realize that they are tending to make disappear that which was so appealing in the first place.

    Assimilation is always a two-way street, but the receiving culture should have “dibs” on the interpretation.