Analogous to other nations, Malta has been compelled to react to the pugnacity that is the Arab Spring. The Central Mediterranean country has chosen principally to converge on two consequences of the revolutionary outburst in the Middle East. One may very well have been initiated by the other, but in any case, both have evolved into separate dynamics that serve to influence the Maltese population’s perception of the Middle Eastern turmoil.
In one aspect, Malta is disadvantaged by the Arab Spring. As a result of the insurrection, Malta has been obliged to accommodate an upsurge of people, predominantly Muslims, seeking refuge after displacement due to border wars. Malta has extended humanitarian aid to these expatriates, opening centers throughout the country, namely at Hal Far, Marsa, and Balzan. The most prolific of these organizations is in Balzan, founded by the Migrant Commission of the Maltese Church and the Good Shepherd Sisters of Balzan. This parochial association, spearheaded by nuns and calling for the gradual integration of Muslims into Maltese society through comprehensive culture studies, has also prompted another insular faction, the Jesuit Refugee Service, to express acquiescence in assimilation of the refugees. In mobilizing such diverse relief, Malta has engrossed international support for victims of the Arab Spring belligerence. At their behest, a combined force, the International Organization for migration and Kopperazzjoni Interhnazzionali (KOPIN). This alliance has been crucial in imparting relief to the battle-weary Middle Eastern survivors.
As refugees congregate in Malta, the Maltese perception of the Arab culture, particular in the aspect of the Islam faith. Akin to the United States, Islam had a disparaging repute in Malta. It was assumed that the religion condoned radical terrorist acts in order to shield Muslims’ devotion. In reality, Islam preaches peace, more so than many other religions, namely the Christian Fundamentalist beliefs of many Maltese. Contrary to the United States, the events of the Arab Spring have increased Malta’s opinion of the Arabs. The calamities in the Middle East serve to increase Maltese awareness of the Arab culture and motives for revolution. “The Arabs are now seen as heroes. The more I talk to people, the more I realise how their support is genuine, especially towards Libyans. The Maltese want them to succeed, find democracy and have a good standard of living.” This statement, made by Maltese-Palestinian Sanaa El Nahhal, displays that since the onset of the insurrection, Malta has come to support the economic and social advance of nonviolent Arab countries. The Maltese people have expressed willingness to help the Middle East achieve the autonomy that it desires, and to view the conflict as a necessary step to achieve the desired end. Turmoil is continuing relatively unhindered in the Middle East, but the Maltese people are optimistic, more so than most nations. Their positive outlook exhibits the greatest promise to eventually recognize harmony in the Arab region, quite possibly with minimal collateral damage. Malta recognizes that the Middle East has long been involved in regional wars, but also is determined to demonstrate to other world leaders that countries actively participatory in the Arab Spring must initially be given a chance to amend their wrongs against other Arab nations, and also against the world sphere. Malta acts as a role model in that it allows previous actions to hold only minor sway against country opinions of the entire Arab population. This is rare in the increasingly xenophobic world. The US, one of the world’s powers, should take note of Malta’s actions, and not be so pompous as to ignore them, as is unfortunately common in initiative decisions taken by smaller nations.