‘What If Your Child Were Treated Like That?’: Minister Blasts Racist Comments About Somali Man’s Disappearance2 min read
Inclusivity Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli has condemned racist comments posted online about the disappearance of a Somali individual, insisting that the behaviour shown by some online was shameful.
Earlier this week the police issued an appeal for information about the whereabouts of Ahmed Diriye after he lost contact with his family three days before Christmas.
A few hours later, the appeal was withdrawn after a nurse informed the police that the man was the same one she had treated in hospital some days earlier. Diriye was injured at the workplace and succumbed to his injuries in hospital shortly after.
The news story led to many racist comments online, many of which were reposted by the minister.
“Someone said: -1 (we’ve rid ourselves of one of them),” wrote Farrugia Portelli.
“These disparaging comments do not reflect the values of the majority of the Maltese people.”
She said it was truly shameful that Malta still had to deal with racial hatred. “It is even more shameful that we continue to hide behind a keyboard and fire comments that are clearly a criminal offence.”
“Imagine it was your child or your sibling who is white who was treated this way when they are abroad in a country where the majority are black? How would you feel?
“Is it acceptable for you that a white man is insulted simply because he is white? No. This is a basic principle in our Constitution.”
The minister insisted that hate crimes could never be acceptable adding that this was the reason for the recent legislation to broaden the definition of a hate crime in Malta.
No place for racism among us – Owen Bonnici
In comments to the press, Equality Minister Owen Bonnici said that Diriye was another victim of the dehumanisation of black people.
He noted that Diriye had been living and working in Malta since 2004.
“The mockery we witnessed when the police requested help finding him is condemnable,” insisted the minister.
He said he was certain that the behaviour of a minority did not reflect the feelings of the majority of the Maltese population.
The government, he said, wanted to make it clear that while it supported free speech, there were “clear lines that should not be crossed”.
He warned that such comments were a crime that could lead to more serious consequences.