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Malta has just witnessed what is being described as the first known racial murder.

Many of us feared this motive the minute we heard about the drive-by shooting in Ħal Far on April 4. Except that this is worse: two men who are empowered to maintain law and protect us are suspected to have been behind the murder.

Lassana Cisse will soon become a mere statistic, we will still think migrants are to blame for all the country’s ills and we’ll engage in ‘real’ debates like… the Eurovision Song Contest!

This is what happens when:

… Politicians and party leaders are not challenged when they fan the flames of xenophobia, racism and bigotry to score cheap political votes.

… Level-headed people choose to stay silent or think it is enough to merely upload a post in our Facebook bubble. This is what happens when we don’t call out and reject any blatant racism and white privilege we witness.

… Despicable people like Norman Lowell are treated like entertainers rather than  the dangerous Neo-Nazis they are.

… We are not armed with facts to fight racists and xenophobes bent on fanning fiction.

… We think racist discourse is funny. Just walk to your local grocery shop, hairdresser, just cross the street and it’s everywhere. Do not partake in the tragic joke of our times. Speak up.

… Discipline appears to be just a detail among our forces and when the filtering process fails. A few bad apples are enough to infect the basket, terribly unjust especially among the heroes who save migrants from drowning.

… The country lacks a proper integration policy, when we treat (black) migrants as political pawns, when we treat them like second-class citizens, when we think black people are only suitable to pick our rubbish, when we think a Bangladeshi teacher is inferior to a (white) westerner…

… Racist discourse (which, by the way, is illegal) is allowed to fester online and the public arena in the name of ‘freedom of speech’.

… the education system fails.

It might not have yet sunk in, but the implications of this murder are far more serious than any of us think. And I don’t need to spell them out here. But if you feel angry today, then make sure you channel that anger proactively and productively.

Remaining silent is not enough.

This opinion piece by Herman Grech appeared first on The TimesofMalta website.