What appears to be Malta’s first case of racially-motivated murder should serve as a “wake-up call” about what happens when racism is allowed to fester without being addressed, a group of 60 civil society groups said on Sunday.

“For too long we have ignored the daily experiences of the migrants in our midst and clung to the myth that racist incidents are isolated, and rare, occurrences in Malta,” they said in a statement.

“For too long we have accepted without comment, much less condemnation, intolerant views, derogatory comments and inflammatory speeches”.

It was now time for politicians to go beyond words of condemnation and follow through with decisive action to address racism, they added..

“We have seen that clear, strong and consistent political leadership can make a real difference in the way minorities in our midst are treated,” the group of NGOs said.

“Until racism is addressed with the seriousness it deserves, and every single case is duly reported and investigated, Malta will never be a safe country for all”.

Lassana Cisse, 42, was gunned down on April 6 as he walked along a country road in Birżebbuġa. Two AFM soldiers are suspected of having killed him and injured two others in the racially-motivated attack, and are expected to appear in court on Sunday.

Leading politicians issued statements on Saturday in which they condemned the act, spoke against racism and urged people not to associate the crime with the AFM and its work.

NGOs on Sunday however warned against the temptation of depicting the incident as a “random act, perpetrated by one or two deranged individuals”.

“We know that it is not, because we daily come in contact with people who are treated as less than human, by individuals and institutions, because of their religion or the colour of their skin,” they said.

Individuals also had a role to play, they added.

“Our action, and our inaction, make a difference. Let us not be remembered for our inability to learn from the lessons of history, for our silence in the face of hatred and intolerance, for our unwillingness to take a stand in favour of human dignity”.

Read the statement in full, together with a list of endorsing NGOs, in the PDF below. 

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