Archbishop Charles Scicluna has said that young people need to understand ‘that people of colour are not guests, they are part of us.’
He explained that migrants in Malta were helping to build the community and it was important to develop one that is mutually respectful of eachothers’ differences, whether they are religious, racial or by gender.
The Archbishop made these comments during an event organised by the University of Malta’s Faculty of Social Wellbeing, in which migrants and civil society organisations reflected on the wider impact of the murder of Lassane Souleyman Cisse.
Cisse had been shot and killed in a drive-by on Triq Il-Gebel in Hal Far back in April. Two others had been injured during the incident, with the two accused being named as Lorin Scicluna and Francesco Fenech. Both men are soldiers in the Armed Forces of Malta and their legal case started today.
We gave him that label
The Archbishop explained that Cisse’s murder was a ‘very important moment’ for the Maltese faith community to do some ‘critical analysis of our complicity in hate speech,’ adding that it was time to assess how we express difference.
Scicluna then discussed the issues of different narratives, stating that Cisse’s story and narrative had been defined by us. He outlined that despite going through the immigration processes, he had been rejected and that label had been carried through with him until his demise.
‘We gave him that label, our institutions, our legislation gave him that label.’
In light of his murder, Scicluna added that it was crucial to address, how his story was a ‘trajectory of rejection and elimination… but he is not the only one.’
‘Example of integration, I would tell you Balzan’
Along with discussing the negative narratives which need to be addressed, the Archbishop also discussed examples of good narratives.
He told the audience that if asked where there is a good example of good neighbourhood in which a mix of local and migrant communities have integrated, he pinpointed Balzan.
He explained that the community had adapted to the presence of mainly African migrants in the community.
Going further, he discussed the inclusive nature of the Birkirkara Parish Priest’s invite to the African community living within the locality on Maundy Thursday.
Scicluna explained that the Priest had made the special gesture of washing the feet of the African residents, explaining that the gesture is what Jesus asked of his followers. It shows that ‘We are here to serve you because you are part of us. That is what the gesture of the Maundy washing of the feet means.’
Need to invite our neighbours from Africa and Asia
Archbishop Scicluna concluded his address by saying that he would be inviting a number of young people to the Curia for what he called a, ‘good neighbourhood dinner.’
However, he stressed that he would like to include the inviting the communities from Africa and Asia to be part of the celebrations.
He said that it would be important in sharing ‘our narratives and our stories.’