BLOG By Professor Maurice N Cauchi It is becoming fairly obvious that we seem to be at a loss what to do about migrants that land unwanted and unwelcomed on our shores. Nations around the world have taken diametrically opposite views as to how to tackle this urgent problem. In Malta, we prefer to pass them on to other larger nations where they would impose a relatively smaller impact on society.
Others, like Australia, prefer to lock them up in surrounding islands, thus stopping prospective asylum seekers from even thinking about leaving their own country. There is no denying that all over Europe, in recent months, there have been unfortunate events that have put the very concept of multiculturalism under a very critical lens.
Events resulting in attacks on, and even murder of innocent civilians that we have witnessed around the world highlight the fragility of interaction between citizens who up until recently lived fairly harmoniously together.
Multiculturalism has often been advocated as perhaps the only way societies on the move can hope to live together. It may be said of multiculturalism what Winston Churchill said about democracy, namely, that it is the worst system except for all the others. In effect, this means there is nothing else to look for: either we live together or we live apart.
Unfortunately, living apart, ignoring the rights of those who for whatever reason settle in a foreign land, results in an unequal society, with the mushrooming of ghettos and the promotion of dissident and rebellious elements. The quartiers of Paris are typical isolates which seem to have developed their own street laws relating to behaviour, including, for instance, self-appointed vigilantes who dictate dress codes for women.
It may be said of multiculturalism what Winston Churchill said about democracy, namely that it is the worst system except for all the others
It is stated that some 3,000 youngsters have left Europe to join the Jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
There is no doubt that most of these come from areas where they have been ignored, scorned, isolated, left without an education and any hope of employment, and had no other option but to associate with others of the same background.
This has been fomenting for years but has only recently become a time-bomb ready to wreak havoc on Western society.
The current epidemic of disenfranchisement and disaffection felt by young people make them prefer to join a criminal gang like Islamic State, which can offer nothing but blood and almost certain death.
There is, of course, another category of disaffected people, namely those who have been offered but rejected facilities available for everyone, including a good family, a good education and employment. These, a minority, seem to be motivated by an ideal to which they are attracted like a moth to the lightbulb. The hope of a new life and the idea of correcting all the evils of the Western world seem to be worth all the hardship and even the very possibility of ‘martyrdom’.
Multiculturalism is supposed to overcome some of the basic problems associated with mixtures of races, ensuring that everybody feels accepted in an equal society. Everybody is given a chance to move up within the ranks. With multiculturalism, it is argued, background, religion, customs, all these form no barrier to integration, at least in the long run. States provide all the assistance required to ensure that all residents develop their full potential.
It is no doubt that this model has worked in places like Canada and Australia. How else but in a place like Australia can one accommodate a society which embraces more than 260 languages and 130 religions? Where else can you find yourself living with a German family one side of your home, a Greek family on the other, a Muslim up the road and true-blue unhyphenated Australians further up the road?
The facts are clear: migration around the world has always been the rule. The only thing that is new is that they are happening at a more accelerated rate these days.
A slow rate of intake allows smooth mixing with the resident society. Ensuring a variety of backgrounds also helps reduce stigma. But perhaps more important is to ensure a basic political outlook that encourages the view that basically all are equal, and should be treated as such.
For more articles by Professor Cauchi visit his blog at mauricecauchi.wordpress.com