Ah, but the lesbians were white and Maltese (and being gay is fashionable, but being black is not)

Published: March 23, 2012 at 2:49pm

Over the past few weeks, we have had lots of talk about ‘hate crimes’ from the chattering classes which populate our newsrooms and our political parties. This after two young women were punched by a couple of teenage rednecks in Hamrun, surviving to live another day.

We have had umpteen updates from The Times about the ‘lesbian attack’, with step by step information each time a court hearing is postponed or somebody squeaks. It’s lesbian attack this and lesbian attack that, practically every other week. And the Labour Party, never one to miss a trundling bandwagon without hitching a ride, has used the opportunity to spout off about hate crimes. You know, because it is the resident expert in peace and love.

Then a real, proper, stark and scary hate crime occurs and it’s just another day down at the newsrooms and the political mill. An African refugee, whose former work colleagues described as a sunny, positive personality to whom they would turn for advice, is assaulted in Paceville and found unconscious on the ground with severe head injuries. He dies a few days later.

Do we get headlines screaming ‘black attack death’ (in what is now The Times’s parlance)? Do we get the usual suspect reporters trawling the usual suspect politicians for their views on hate crimes, racism and the status of black people in Malta?

Do we have a protest march in Paceville, like the protest march in Hamrun, with politicians jostling up against each other to be seen, noted and photographed?

Do we hell.

Yes, The Times went out of its way to interview friends and former colleagues of 26-year-old Osama Al Shzliaoy, the Sudanese man in question, but the tone of the pieces is very much ‘Oh, this cute and cuddly man has died; he may have been black, but boy, was he nice.’

There is absolutely no sense of outrage that this should have happened at all, no questioning of why it is happening, no attempt at piecing together information that makes for an ugly picture.

22 Comments Comment

  1. AJS says:

    Well done Daphne. This is an excellent article – on several levels.

    I am pleased that at least someone takes her journalism seriously providing an angle, whatever angle that may be. I am happy that you take a harsh stand against any form of prejudice.

    I am sick and tired of the racist comments on the paper and what I see/hear on the streets. I get so upset when many of these refugees cannot even look me in the eye for fear that I deplore them for coming to Malta.

    For goodness sake, as humans we should not fear to look each other in the eye. Didn’t we all come out of Africa after all? It’s just my ancestors did it about million years ago whereas these people are doing it now. What difference does it make?

    I ask myself whether the Maltese truly understand the meaning of “love” and “do unto others what you would like them to do to you”. Do they forget their relatives and friends who migrated to the US, UK, Canada and Australia when our country was destitute? Or is it OK for us to migrate and build a better life?

    Don’t Africans have a right to build a future for themselves and their families?

    This entire story makes my blood boil – one commentator takes a comment by a Ms Nicholson completely out of context and concludes that young Osama was not the victim of some racist attack. Rather, he pushed the Romanian and implies the (rightly) Romanian retaliated … goes to show the sorry mental state of the majority of the Maltese.

    Whereas we cannot yet determine whether it was a racist attack, couldn’t the papers get two writers to argue the case for and against?

    At least through real investigation, perhaps the perpetrators might get caught and brought to justice. After all they killed a man whoever he was, whatever god he believed in and whichever culture he has been brought up in. La legge dovrebbe essere uguale per tutti.

  2. Lilla says:

    Quoting the 2009 European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS), Malta has the ‘honour’ of being one of the ‘top ten’ Member States experiencing the highest levels of discrimination.

    “Looking at a breakdown of the results according
    to specific groups in Member States, the ‘top ten’
    experiencing the highest levels of discrimination
    over a 12 month period were, in descending order: Roma in the Czech Republic (64%), Africans in Malta (63%), Roma in Hungary (62%), Roma in Poland (59%), Roma in Greece (55%), Sub-Saharan Africans in Ireland (54%), North Africans
    in Italy (52%), Somalis in Finland (47%), Somalis in
    Denmark (46%), and Brazilians in Portugal (44%).”

    The report goes on:
    Discrimination at a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub,
    and by shops.
    Discrimination experiences in relation to leisure and retail services were a significant problem for a number of groups surveyed – for example when in or when trying to enter a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub.

    “Looking at a breakdown of the results according to specific groups in Member States: Africans in Malta emerge as the most discriminated against group in this area, with 35% experiencing discrimination in the last 12 months.”


  3. maryanne says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  4. el bandido guapo says:

    I’m getting allergic to the word “lesbian”.

    As if assaults on lesbians are in any way specifically different to those on any other persons. At least that is how The Times seems to come across as portraying it, with the repetitive use of the term to refer to this incident.

    As for the refugee – no doubt, “he was black but one of the (implied few) good ones” comes across clearly too.

    The Times is wallowing in mediocrity. I can’t say that this is a recent phenomenon however. Frequently booking adverts with them some years ago I was always left with the impression that the competence and attitude of the front-line employees and the way the operation was run in general, were far “worse” than in any Government department in the bad old days.

    Dilettantism and sloppy standards. Lose count of the number of times online articles are full of spelling mistakes, poor writing, factual errors, and just plain garbage.

  5. Jozef says:

    What most seem to miss is that organised gangs carry a European passport these days. White slavery, systematic theft from shops in Sliema, now this.

    The gratuitous assault looks like marking territory, confirming Paceville as a no-go area for other ethnic minorities.

    The border seems to be delineated by the number of massage parlours close to Fond Ghadir. The recent spate of thefts could be a show of strength.

    When restaurants and shops start going up in flames, we’ll be in trouble. Racism is the best fuel, especially when police officers have been implicated in related cases.

  6. Albert Farrugia says:

    Absolutely agree.

    As a matter of fact, in the past year or so, our society seems to have become very conscious and sensitive regarding LGBT issues. Gone are the days when anyone “caught” as being gay would be totally shunned. But the same old mentality regarding immigrants persists.

    I think it has something to do with the fact that, regarding LGBT, there IS some sort of strong lobby nowadays. There is nothing of the sort as regards immigrants.

  7. Paul Bonnici says:

    This Sudanese was not a refugee, he probably was an economic refugee and not a political one, I see no reason why a Muslim Sudanese should seek asylum. Asylum from what? If he was Christian maybe.

    Once immigrants reach our shores, they should be treated with dignity like anyone else. In fact anyone found guilty of wrongdoings against these immigrants should receive a harsher punishment, they are vulnerable and need protection.

  8. Paul Bonnici says:

    May I add Daphne, that in the UK a black man would be better treated than a Middle Eastern-looking Maltese man with a strong Maltese accent.

  9. Riff Raff says:

    Some people will take consolation in this

  10. Dee says:

    How can the Times allow such a sick comment on its comments board?


    “Mr leo attard

    Today, 20:39

    the kidneys will probably end up on ebay and go to the highest bidder’

  11. Dee says:

    Here is another headline grabber, in close competition with Franco Debono and JPO.


    Some mothers do av em!

  12. Dee says:


    “Joseph Mizzi
    – Fri 23-Mar-2012, 11:05

    Dan ghandu dritt jivvota?

  13. Ghoxrin Punt says:

    The days when The Times used to investigate matters and THEN report are gone. All they’re ‘good’ at now is just quoting what people say.

  14. denis says:

    As this story was of no interest to the ELves who comment on timesofmalta.com, there wasn’t any debate or squabbling.

    Bottom line:

    This incident does not give Labour any votes, so why bother!

    • ciccio says:

      I know it is sad that politics comes into this, but I think you are right, denis.
      In fact, I think that even if that African man had been gay, there would have been no protests about his killing, as long as he could be of no help to Labour.

  15. Dee says:


    Top posts should be awarded to the best qualified people, IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR GENDER.

  16. Dee says:

    Dont Maltatoday have a policy against racist comments?


    “Posted by: skaldazghira— 24/03/2012 17:04:58

    If they don’t like it they can go back home. They are a great burden on us an our health and social services and we didn’t send for them. They imposed themselves on us. “

    • Kenneth Cassar says:

      Probably not, and it seems that neither does The Times. In fact, judging by several of my own comments that failed to make it through, it would seem that The Times has a policy against anti-racism comments.

  17. Kenneth Cassar says:


    The racist bigots are having a field day on the online newspaper that certainly makes them feel at home.

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