Monday, 21 September 2015

This is in Valletta, Malta, a city named after one of Europe's greatest heroes in the struggle against Islam: Jean De La Valette, grand master of the Knights Hospitaller, who, in his 70s, led the successful defence of the city against the invading Turkish hordes in 1565 in a battle that came to be known as the Great Siege of Malta. (Incidentally, if you're not familiar with this history, Roger Crowley's book Empires of the Sea is a great account of it). 

The video is mostly in Maltese, which, as you can hear, is partly derived from Arabic, although some of the signs they hold up are in English. It's worth watching some of just for the flavour. 
A group of some 200 people this morning took part in a demonstration against migration. The activity was held in Valletta by the Ghaqda Patrijotti Maltin.  
It started near the Parliament building and headed towards the offices of the European Commission and the European Parliament in St Paul's Street. 
Many of those taking part carried Maltese flags and placards, some of which condemned the multi-stabbing incident in Paceville last week (over which a Libyan man has been arraigned). There are also messages against migration and against migrants coming to Malta. 
Participants circulated a petition headed 'No to forced integration'. Organisers said 14,000 have signed it so far. 
Before the demonstration started, policemen had to intervene to protect broadcaster Peppi Azzopardi following threatening behaviour by some of those present as he interviewed participants. 
Speaking outside the law courts, Għaqda Patrijotti Maltin president Alex Pisani said immigration was “leading to the eradication of the Maltese race”. He called for harsher punishments for migrants found guilty of criminal acts and for a limit on social benefits. “Better a police state than a state of fear,” he added. 
The march then continued on to Merchants' Street, the closest police would allow protesters to Europe House. Addressing the crowd, another official from the organisation described immigrants as “rapists, drug dealers and recidivists”. “Why are they here? There’s no war in their country,” he said to loud cheers. “Malta should be for the Maltese only.” 
Despite calls from the organisers not to make an issue of skin colour, one protester who spoke to Times of Malta proudly proclaimed himself a “white supremacist”, while another compared immigrants to “cockroaches”. A woman circulating an anti-immigration petition said: “We need to send a message that the Maltese people do not want these blacks in the country.” 
As the protest wound up, the organisers were forced to intervene several times to implore the protesters to “go home in peace”, as sections of the crowd again encircled members of the press. One protester was pushed aside by police after attempting to strike a cameraman with his placard.


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