The first national action plan against racism and xenophobia (NAPRAX) was launched for public consultation on Friday, with the government seeking submissions from the public to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

“No one is born racist or hating another person. This is unfortunately learned behaviour enforced through stereotypes and prejudice that we carry with us through life and which we need to seriously address and eradicate,” parliamentary secretary for equality Rosianne Cutajar said in a press conference at Auberge d’Aragon in Valletta. 

“We have to acknowledge a rising racial sentiment and we need to send a clear message that it is not acceptable. This requires collective effort in order to be effective.”

Among others, people are being asked for their experience of racism and xenophobia in Malta, and what measures they think could be included in NAPRAX. A final working document is expected by the end of the year. 

Addressing the launch, Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship Alex Muscat said that diversity has always shaped Maltese society, citing economic prosperity as a reason for continually diversified demographics. 

“We have gone from a country that was shedding young people full of promise to a place where multiple generations are headed to Malta seeking prosperity and opportunities,” Muscat said. 

“Thanks to these people we have a resilient and sustainable economy that is culturally diverse. This doesn't discount racist sentiment, but nothing comes without challenges.”

In a video message Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo said that the beauty of life stemmed from a diversity of races and cultures and that while challenges may arise as we learn to live together, we are all still part of the same family of humanity.  

“In order to love our country we don’t need to hate other countries and nations,” Bartolo said. 

EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli commended Malta for being the first member state without a national strategy against racism that has taken steps to adopt one, adding that she hoped other member states would follow suit.

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