Imbasta ghandna l-kurcifiss

Published: November 8, 2009 at 11:44am
Tghid jaghtuni daqxejn demm dawk il-bdabat ta' Malta, jew jghiduli Le ghax jien Lhudi mil-Palestina?

Tghid jaghtuni daqxejn demm dawk il-bdabat ta' Malta, jew jghiduli Le ghax jien Lhudi mil-Palestina?

From The Sunday Times, today

Man tells blood bank to stop ‘wasting’ supplies on immigrants
Mark Micallef

The director of the blood bank thought someone was playing a joke when a letter landed on his desk from a potential donor asking for assurances that his blood would not be given to immigrants.

However, the man who wrote the letter was dead serious. In fact, he was so upset the bank did not take up his suggestion that he wrote a letter to The Sunday Times, saying he had a right not to donate blood unless he was given such a guarantee.

He said in the letter to the paper: “I, for one, am not willing to donate blood if this is going to be used on undesired illegal citizens. They are already benefitting from free healthcare, shelter, food, telephony and what not. Not my blood as well though!”

He goes on to describe illegal immigrants as a “parasite community” and argues that the authorities would be reneging on their duty towards the legal population (tourists included) if they “squander our supply on them (immigrants)”.

The man bases his argument on the premise that the “uncontrollable influx” of immigrants is exacerbating periodic blood shortages.

But Alex Aquilina, head of the National Blood Transfusion Service who received the original letter, said this was incorrect.

Dr Aquilina said the amount of blood taken up by immigrants, in fact, represented a fraction of that given to the rest of the population. This is not surprising, given that they only represent around one per cent of the total population.

“The blood bank collects blood and distributes it to whoever needs it. Our mission is to save lives,” Dr Aquilina said.

“One is free to donate or not to donate blood assuming one is eligible to do so. However, we strongly feel that we all have an obligation to donate blood to all who need it. So we consider this reasoning to be ethically, mo-rally, and logically unacceptable. Not donating blood on the basis of the correspondent’s reasoning would jeopardise the lives of many people.”

When contacted yesterday, the man who wrote the letter proposed a new solution – creating a blood bank specifically for immigrants.

When it was put to him that his suggestion could endanger lives, he said: “Their own friends who had the same idea of entering illegally should be donors to immigrants in need, not us.” He even said blood should be withheld “if need be”.

When contacted, columnist and anthropologist Mark Anthony Falzon said not only was the man’s approach xenophobic; it was not practical.

Donated blood is processed according to its shelf-life and is then used (or not) depending on demand in a very costly process.

“The last thing the blood bank needs is to further separate the blood products according to the prejudices of the donors. Just imagine: ‘platelets for white Nationalists’, ‘whole blood for Somalis’, and so on,” Dr Falzon said.

“So, rather than Mr Spiteri worrying about ‘wasting’ his blood, pre-selection would be a clear case of the blood bank wasting its time and resources on people like him. Donating blood is a voluntary act of solidarity; those who do not ‘have it in them’, pardon the pun, need not apply.”

The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality declined the opportunity to condemn the man’s actions, but it pointed out that implementing any discriminatory policy of the sort would be illegal.

However, it praised the blood bank’s response, which told the man that it was there to serve whoever needed its service.

When asked how many times he had donated blood so far, the man, who was otherwise forthcoming, said: “I cannot understand what this has got to do with the problem.”

42 Comments Comment

  1. richard muscat says:

    “Donating blood is a voluntary act of solidarity; those who do not ‘have it in them’, pardon the pun, need not apply.”

    Well said and agreed.

    Christ, Son of God, shed his blood until the last drop to redeem all mankind, namely those who believe in His message and those who do not believe. Without exception!

  2. Francis V says:

    I find this, and not Vella Gera’s short story, obscene and disgusting! All this says so much about what a hypocritical nation we are.

  3. Chris says:

    What I don’t understand is why make such a big fuss over it and not just ignore the crazy xenophobic man. Is there really a need to argue logically and practically against what he suggested?

    • Yasmine Aquilina says:

      I believe that xenophobia is a common problem in Malta showing ignorance and should therefore be addressed. Ignoring a problem has never made it disappear.

  4. Tony Pace says:

    On a lighter note and definitely one of Dave Allen’s best…

  5. Kevin Zammit says:

    Probably one of those who was disgusted and shocked with Vella Gera’s fiction.

  6. John Schembri says:

    We donate blood under no conditions and for free. My religion states that Jesus shed his blood for ALL mankind. So this person who wrote these letters to the Blood Bank and the SToM cannot be a true follower of Christ.

    In China you don’t see crucifixes hanging in public places; with what you’re implying in the title we can conclude that this is why most of the ‘donors’ in China get paid for their blood.

  7. Mario De Bono says:

    I have to agre with Francis. This is the disgusting story of the year. It shows how bigoted some people are. When Malta runs short of blood, we have to import it. We also import blood products, which are made of blood from everybody abroad, be they Muslims, Christians, emigrants, etc.

    Because necessity dictates it some people actually sell their blood so as to earn something, and because blood is always in short supply anywhere, it is bought. This Christian donor above might someday need blood, and I don’t think that he will be very picky if he is desperate.

  8. Andrea says:

    Now I know what ‘anaemic Catholicism’ means.

  9. Antoine Vella says:

    These are the real issues troubling our society. Why are intellectuals like Alex Vella Gera and Adrian Buckle so concerned with sex and masturbation when they should be dealing with serious things like racism in Malta?

    • Chris says:

      I’m curious. How has Mr Vella come to the conclusion that Mr Vella Gera and Mr. Buckle are ‘so concerned’ with masturbation and sex? What is the basis of this sweeping (and incidentally, very incorrect) statement.

      Should Mr Vella not be asking instead why it is that it is people in authority who are obsessively concerned with these subjects and believe they should not be tackled by artists?

      Mr Vella’s comment is dangerous because it is insidious. It tries to get away with a heinous wrong by trying to point us in another direction. That is always the way of apologists.

    • What!? I’m an intellectual now! Hold it right there. I’m just someone who does theatre. And yes, I have tackled racism. I am the only one to do so so far in this country, through a theatre programme extended to ALL schools in Malta, crucifix or no crucifix. It tackled racism and xenophobia and illustrated the dire straights these can lead to. The pupils were also brought to realise how easy it is to assume and make statements. I did this project when I still worked as a teacher for the Drama Unit some years ago and wanted to repeat it this year but sadly I was promoted to assistant head of school. And the project was completely my initiative.

      • Antoine Vella says:

        Adrian Buckle

        You came to public notice because your play was censored as it was deemed – wrongly or rightly – vulgar and obscene.

        If you ever produce a play denouncing racism in Malta, it’s unlikely to be banned but you’d incur the wrath of our home-grown Klan and you probably prefer to take on the Censorship Board than risk having your house burnt down.

        Maltese racism is not to be treated timidly within the sheltered walls of school – however, though, I do realise it takes courage to take a stand against what appears to have become mainstream sentiment.

        I’d like to see you and others who ‘do theatre’, as you put it, tackle the real problems of Malta, the real shockers, possibly without clouding the issue by onstage sexual intercourse or masturbation scenes. Am I expecting too much?

      • Tim Ripard says:

        Watch out for the dire ‘straights’, Adrian. They’re as dangerous as dire straits, I’m sure.

      • Antoine,

        I tackled racism in schools because I believe that it is by educating children that we can get to the root of the problem. No one else has done something on such a scale yet.

        My play Mercury Fur tackled the problem of racism quite directly, but it didn’t make any headlines. I’m sorry but I don’t control the press. I would also like to point out that my plays don’t feature sexual simulation. That only happened once and for a good reason which I don’t intend to go into here.

        And no, Stitching doesn’t feature any sex or masturbation. That was just a false image the censors tried to portray to justify their ban.

        Tackling racism in schools is not the safe thing to do, it is the intelligent thing to do. Children are tomorrow’s citizens and they are already subjected to prejudices. Fighting those prejudices is the best way to fight racism. A bigoted adult will always be a bigoted adult, play or no play.

      • Antoine Vella says:


        There’s not much point in drawing out an exchange that risks becoming as repetitive as it is fruitless so I won’t bore Daphne and her readers further by continuing to argue about this topic (after this comment, that is).

        Bascially, your words partially contradict your actions: you say theatre won’t change an adult’s outlook, yet you continue to work on adult plays.

        I didn’t know about Mercury Fur; had I underestimated your commitment against racism after all? I looked it up and, no, I hadn’t misjudged anything: this is from one review on “Two brothers, Elliot and Darren, run a business realising the sexual fantasies of rich clients at private ‘parties’” (see what I mean?). The play centres around one of these parties in which a 10-year old child is going to be killed for fun. It justifies its claim to being anti-racist by the actors resorting to many racial insults. By that yardstick is a bulwark of anti-racism.

        “OOOOOOHHHHHH! This would make a great script for a play. Maybe Vella Gera could write it for me . …” This was your reaction to Vella Gera’s sexually graphic piece (see what I mean, again?). Perhaps you might consider instead a script about a Maltese man who doesn’t want to give blood to immigrants. It would be a lot more “in-yer-face”than anything you’ve done up to now, I assure you. If you prefer sex and violence, that’s fine too but I feel it would be more upfront to define your work as straight S&M porn without any pretext of “a powerful message”.

        My main argument is that in Malta sex may shock censors – and provide some publicity – but if you really want to shake the public, try racism or festa excesses.

      • Antoine, this too is my last post on the subject. Mercury Fur tackled racism in that one character was a bigoted racist and wanted to kill a child of a different race. In the script it is a paki. We made it an african for obvious reasons. May I invite you to judge plays on actual performances not reviews as these tend to be mere impressions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong. If I understand your notion, you are pushing for a preachy play that portrays racists being burned at the stake (metaphorically). I got news for you. It doesn’t work that way and it shows what a poor understanding of theatre you have. Sometimes, it is more effective to show the racist in all his bigotry, as Mercury Fur did. The theatre is NOT a classroom.

        People sometimes come to me and tell me “I don’t go to the theatre, although I know I should.” Why? Because you’re going to learn something? Then don’t bother. One goes to the theatre to enjoy a good play. Fullstop. In the same way one goes to the cinema to watch a good movie, you don’t watch either because of any powerful message. If this is not your idea of theatre, I’m sorry but it is mine. I just do theatre for enjoyment. True, I look for contemporary plays with contemporary issues but not to preach or teach, just to make it interesting.

        My reaction of what would make a good play was not to Vella Gera’s story but to Daphne going to court and reading the erotic literature. It was a joke! My apologies for misleading you there.

        Also, if any of my plays was deemed vulgar and obscene, I’m sorry but it’s not my fault. I never advertised any as such.

        Finally, I do not do theatre to shock or to preach. I have no time for that. I do theatre because I feel a script is worth exploring. I do not teach through theatre (my Drama Unit days are over) and I have only ever done so with children’s theatre.

    • Mario De Bono says:

      Good point, Antoine.

      • Chris says:

        Again another sweeping statement by Antoine. Now a producer is blamed for gaining prominence because someone else decides to ban a play he wishes to produce. Mr Vella also wants the producer to put on the plays that Mr Vella thinks are relevant, as if theatre is about propaganda that Mr Vella wants to see.

        And if Mr Buckle informs him that such plays are being produced in schools where they can have a longer more permanent effect he changes tack and describes these producers as cowards because he does not see these plays in public.

        Let us put aside for the moment the fact that these ‘cowardly’ producers are doing theatre because they want to,risking their own finances, and are therefore under no obligation to follow Mr. Vella’s remit, there are other elements to consider, such as finding the right play, and having the right cast.

        But ultimately one must really question the relevance of putting on a play where, by the very nature of the act of buying a ticket, the audience is self-selective and therefore more likely to be anti-racists in the first place. This is why unlike theatre-in-education programmes, public performance should never be about propaganda as it does not work, as Betrold Brecht discovered to his cost.

        Art is never about preaching (something which a lot of Maltese ‘artists’ have still not understood). Indeed art is never about certainty but ambiguity. The best anti-racist play will probably be one which presents a racist in a good light. It is only when we understand the mind-set and fears of such a person that we can start a dialogue.

      • Antoine Vella says:


        People can be criticised for what they do or for what they don’t do, whatever their alibi.

    • T,Gauci says:

      It’s freedom of speech. Whether he’s racist or not, he has got the right to choose the individual he want to help. With all these illegal immigrants, maybe the immigrant should start a fight with one of his tribe enemies and he would have a pool of blood to choose from – after all, it’s their way of life.

      [Daphne – Freedom of speech doesn’t give you the right to choose who gets your blood. It gives you the right to say that you want to choose who gets your blood, and gives us the right to criticise you for saying it.]

      • T,Gauci says:

        yes he does because this is a democratic country not a communist country. he made it clear in the 1st place and also its his blood. why did you bring religion in this matter, as far as i know no such law exist that says it’s prohibited to give blood unless you are a Christian ?

        ironically communists like you use religion in order to correct someone else values when you don’t even believe in Christianity. santa caruana galizia itlob ghalina qaddisa ommm gonzi

        [Daphne – Why are the arguments of right-wing bigots invariably semi-coherent?]

    • Alex says:

      Just take a gander down to your local Agenda bookshop and buy my book ZEWG, and your answer is there, all for EUR 6.

      • Alex Vella Gera says:

        That comment was addressed to Antoine Vella. Don’t know why it ended up down here.

      • Antoine Vella says:


        “Just take a gander down to your local Agenda bookshop and buy my book ZEWG, and your answer is there, all for EUR 6.”

        You only give your “answer” against payment then. Sorry but I don’t feel like reading a whole book to get an answer to a simple – albeit awkward – question.

    • @TIm Ripard

      Adrian hangs his head in shame and bangs it three times against the wall . . . How could he make such a stupid mistake?

  10. Marku says:

    I’m glad The Sunday Times did not publish the letter but instead used it to show to what extremes some people will go to express their hatred toward fellow human beings.

    • Becky d'Ugo says:

      Indeed – and speaking of these disgusting extremes, I was recently told by a friend that the Ursuline Sisters, who also look after some children of African immigrants, have been experiencing a shortage in their usual donations because some people are refusing to donate while these particular children are in their care. So sad, if true. May I take this opportunity to urge people to donate money or nappies to the Ursuline Sisters, as they currently have around 46 babies in their care and use between 90-100 nappies daily.

  11. ASP says:

    And I want to donate blood but I am not allowed to do so because I’m gay (even if I’m in a stable relationship) and Cetta who has six children from six different men can donate because she’s straight.

    • Yanika says:

      It’s because there is a high risk of HIV transmission, for which, unfortunately, there are no adequate screening tests to confirm/reject. The risk would be lower with Cetta though, so they opt to take blood from the least risky group than from a higher-risk group. This blood will be given to people who are very vulnerable. They must be sure that the blood is as free from contamination as possible because the slightest thing might change the condition of the patient from recovering to regressing.

      Don’t take this personally. In these matters there is no place for feeling sorry for oneself. The patient’s safety must be at the forefront.

      • Tal-Muzew says:

        Ma nahsibx li ghandha x’taqsam jekk intiex gay jew le. Meta tmur taghti d-demm dejjem isaqsik jekk kellekx relazzjoni dawn l-ahhar 6 xhur, gay u mhux gay.

  12. Silvio Farrugia says:

    This episode is definitely wrong. Still, Daphne, the way you reason about illegal immigrants is wrong. Tell me please what is wrong in learning from other countries…their riots by the children of immigrants (as the parents are usually hardworking). I work in a hotel and not only the Little Englander, not only the English uneducated, are against the situation in Britain regarding immigrants and their offspring.

    I talk to many ‘ liberal’ Dutch and they can tell you what happened and is happening in Holland. Talk also to the French, educated or not. I ask again what is wrong in not wanting our country to go the same way? Also remember that we never conquered these countries like many countries of Europe did. Maybe they ‘owe ‘them something back…what do we owe?

    [Daphne – Sorry, Silvio. I’m not getting into this one. It would be as pointless as arguing with a Catholic about the existence of Satan and demonic possession.]

    • Tal-Muzew says:

      Silvio, Malta la hi tac-Cinizi, la tal-Maltin u ta’ hadd. Kieku dawn in-nies kellhom jigu bil-passport normali, jakkwistaw work permit normali, x’fastidju jaghtuk lilek? Ma taghmillekx differenza jekk jigux klandestinament jew legalment; xorta kienu se jigu, allura ghax ghandhom il-gilda sewda qed idejquk? Ir-Russi li qed jidhlu klandestinament ma jdejqukx, ghax gingrin?

      • tal muzew…
        mhux ekk jew..history shiha niddefendu u niggieldu ghal pajjizna u tigi int tghid li din l art ta cinizi u ta kulhadd. u leee biex irridu niddefenduh dal pajjiz ta. tal biza’

  13. C Galea says:

    What’s creating frustration in this country is the fact that we’re in the middle of the Mediterranean and hence chance has it that these poor immigrants have a much higher chance of finding themselves here (whether they want it or not) than in any other EU country.

    If the EU were to be really fair, it should endeavour to distribute these needy people amongst its members – using the measure that each country takes up immigrants pro-rata to its population density. That way no hardship would be suffered by any country.

    [Daphne – You speak of ‘the EU’ as though it is The Other. But we are part of it. And we do have our fair share of immigrants. I suppose what you mean is that They should take Ours but we needn’t take Theirs.]

    It’s inevitable that during their journey the asylum seekers drop off at their first sighting of land. If the Netherlands were in the midst of the Med one can be sure that it’d be the Danes who’d be complaining and appearing as anti-humanistic.

    Thing is that the way things are, we’re one of the smallest countries of the EU, plus we’re also the most densely-populated, and we have to admit that our finances aren’t the most extravagant either.

    Hence our hardship factor is high. That’s what makes me sure of being the reason why people voice “anti-immigrant” opinions here…. and not blood donations. Because once one gives blood one surely doesn’t care to whom human being it was given – it could have been given to a murderer spending life, or to an innocent new-born Somalian. I’m sure the people of our country are just viewing things through very misted (and frustrated) glass.

  14. C Galea says:

    [Daphne – You speak of ‘the EU’ as though it is The Other. But we are part of it. And we do have our fair share of immigrants. I suppose what you mean is that They should take Ours but we needn’t take Theirs.]

    No it wasn’t my intention to speak of the EU as some “other”, obviously we are part of it and ought to be rightly proud of such fact.

    What I meant is that due to our geographic position, we, as a highly-densely populated country, find ourselves receiving MORE than our fair share of immigrants. Whereas other countries especially those not bordering on the med, equally involuntarily receive very few immigrants, even though they have a much larger area as a countries and fewer people per km/2.

    This just happens since naturally a boat in search of land veers towards the first land it sees…

    What could be done better is that each EU country’s population density gets measured taking into consideration obviously the size of the land and the amount of people per sq km. Then these unfortunate asylum-seekers be distributed so that their impact is felt the least by all, and so that no country suffers undue hardship.

    Checking this table here….

    ….one can see that Malta has a population density of 1260 people per square kilometer, placing 4th in population density after Monaco, Gibraltar (part of the UK) and the Vatican City. However one can safely assume that very few if any boats with asylym-seekers aboard happen to find themselves in an area where they have to be relocated to either Monaco or the Vatican……

    By comparison, the UK has a population density of only 244 people per square kilometer (less than one fifth of Malta’s population density!) and Germany 233. Italy’s is of 192 people per square km, France of 109 people per sq km, (remember Malta’s hefty 1260 per sq km!!!), Greece 81 people per sq km, Latvia 37, Estonia 31, and Norway 14…

  15. Chris says:

    @Antoine Vella
    “People can be criticised for what they do or for what they don’t do, whatever their alibi.”

    What’s that supposed to mean. Are artists now politicians, and do they now have to submit their raison d’etre to the fit with Mr Vella’s agenda?

    What sort of inconsequential reasoning is that? Should I now start criticisng Mr Vella for not starting a hunger strike in protest against racism in Malta?

    Is Adrian Buckle’s production of Is-Surmast filled with sex and masturbation? Is Adrian Buckle’s production of The Alchemist filled with sex and masturbation? Is ‘Paul’ or ‘The Pillowman’ filled with sex and masturbation?

    Like your response to Vella Gera, oh I have no time to read your book or your response to Adrian Buckle of ‘Mercury Fur ( “I read the synopsis so I know what the play is about”), you strike me as a very vapid person. The sort of person who will make the kindt of glib remark of ‘why doesn’t the church melt its gold to feed the poor’? Not realising that the gold does not belong to the church but the people who paid for it and the gold is more precious for its art then its weight. And more importantly would come nowhere to saving the world’s poor.

    But hey ho that’s the price we pay for democracy. And I for one would not want to see Mr Vella’s writing censored.

  16. Simona says:

    I bet this generous cowboy was one of the first to join all the “Do not touch our crucifixes” groups and the like on Facebook.

  17. hahha sew qalilom ….we will boycott them…no blood for savages…if they think theyre in the jungle drug dealing and killing each other..they will learn not to cut each other…becuase blood should not be wasted. They are not my fellow brethren or whatever term someone used…they are and will remain..savage uncivilised animals. All thru Malta’s history I cant recall an event when drug dealers attempted to kill each other…daw adhom jigu u ga bdew jitqatlu …illum l kurcifiss…ada l hwejjeg ta teacher…pitada it textbooks ikollom jinbidlu …mbad flahhar sharia law go pajjizna…enjoy your multi cult. Go watch some international news…nidal the american muslim killing 13 of his fellow ‘brethren’ ..kemm intom gullible jaqq u tahsbu li dinja timxi fuq rubini u li kulhadd innocenti u jridilna l gid.

  18. GWAP says:

    This makes my blood boil: with a brain like that, this man’s blood would be wasted anyway.

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