Minister takes Facebook commenters to task over racist remarks on Somali man's disappearance

Julia Farrugia Portelli: 'It is shameful that we still have such racism among us'

Inclusion Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli lambasted Facebook commenters for making racist remarks after a Somali national went missing last week, and eventually died due to injuries incurred by a work accident.

Farrugia Portelli uploaded a montage of disparaging comments that appeared below a news report by the state broadcaster.

“It is shameful that we still have such racism among us. And it’s even more shameful for us to huge behind a keyboard to make comments that are clearly of a criminal nature.”

Xi ħadd qal: - 1 (ħlisna minn wieħed). Dawn il-kummenti dispreġjattivi ma jirriflettux il-valuri veru tal-maġġoranza...

Posted by Julia Farrugia Portelli on Tuesday, December 28, 2021

She added that Parliament recently amended the law so that hatecrime against the elderly and people with disabilities is made illegal.

Ahmed Diriye is the Somali refugee who went missing last week. He was last in contact with his family on 21 December, after which all contact came to an abrupt halt.

After spending a week searching for him, police issued a public call for information on his whereabouts. It was only after this public call that nurses in Mater Dei Hospital recognised him as an unidentified victim who had died in a construction site accident.

Police have been silent on how Diriye remained unidentified for so long. When MaltaToday tried gaining informaiton from the police, they said that a magisterial inquiry is ongoing, and that it would not be prudent to provide further information.

Equality Minister Owen Bonnici also condemned the racist comments posted online, saying that even in his death, Ahmed Diriye is a a victim of the dehumanisation of black people.

"There is no place for hatred among us. Hatespeech results in hatecrimes, and can further have tragic consequences."

READ ALSO: Ahmed Diriye - a victim of the black economy who died alone and unknown