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MALTATODAY 16 April 2023

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 APRIL 2023 COMMENT Waging war on human smugglers INTERVIEW Mark Micallef PAGES 8 & 9 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down JOSANNE CASSAR Brooke Shields' story and the sexualization of young girls PAGE 6 EDITORIAL Deals are struck at the negotiation table PAGE 2 RAPHAEL VASSALLO Hunters, accusing Birdlife of 'handling dead birds'. Whatever next? PAGES 10 & 11 What is really needed, is not just 'border control', on its own, but rather, a multi- pronged formula that also includes, among other things, 'safe and legal passage' for the migrants themselves What are we skinning? The Good Friday Valletta procession being disallowed to carry on its traditional march with requisite dignity as restaurants refused to make both physical and au- ral space to allow it go continue along its way unimpeded. Why are we skinning it? Prob- ably because it is as blatant an example of the 'old gods clash- ing with the new' as we're gonna get, now that our capital city and its captains appear to be 'hell' bent on pursuing mammon at all costs. But I'm not religious. Why can't I enjoy a drink in Merchants Street in peace? Well first of all, you wouldn't be enjoying it 'in peace' exactly, now would you? How do you mean? Even if it weren't Good Friday -- or any other religious feast, for that matter -- a bulk of the eateries in that area do have a propensity to blare out extra-loud music while their patrons quaff, munch and attempt conversation. Nobody seems to be complain- ing. Oh yes, nobody except the residents, other concerned Val- letta-lovers coming in from the 'outside' and, doubtless, a not- so-silent majority of tourists, even, who may have gotten the wrong impression of quaint old Malta and are left unable to en- joy their holiday in the requisite 'peace' that you were so quick to nominate just now. Okay, okay... so is anything be- ing done about the complaints? Much like the powers-that-be refusing to budge on the contro- versial relaxation of noise levels for a variety of establishments in the capital, it seems that peo- ple's complaints on the matter are being treated with bemused indifference at best, outright contempt at worst. But wasn't this government always touted as being an an- ti-elitist force with its ears to ground and its heart aligned with that of the people? Oh, they are aligned with *some* people, certainly... particularly those who are keen to gentrify Valletta to spit-shined oblivion. Isn't it the fate of capital cities to evolve over time, according to both cultural and economic whims? Yes, and one can take a philosophical long-view of things which could allow us to see the current evolution of the city as being part of an ongoing cycle. It's just a shame that we seem to be stuck at a fairly dross point in the timeline. You mean, a point at which tra- ditional religious processions are not allowed to stake a tra- ditional claim on the territory because they're being elbowed out by overpriced, tourist-trap- py restos? Pretty much. And this is not get all gung-ho for the clergy, but there's a certain welcome stability to religious events that can provide a sense of peaceful continuity even to non-believers. And this is why this stings so much. Still, I don't think the complaints are loud enough to assume any real changes will take place. I'm afraid you're right. And if it gets any worse, the population will probably resort to blaming for- eign Bolt drivers or something. Do say: "The controversy that arose around this issue may seem to stem from an inflated sense of piety, but the issue goes way beyond all that. If even religious ceremonies are being elbowed out by gentrification, what hope is there for any oth- er form of cultural expression in the capital?" Don't say: "Guys, it's called Merchants Street. M-E-R-C-H-A- N-T-S Street. We've been pretty tolerant with the religious crowd so far, but maybe it's about time they face up to some hard facts." No. 187 - The Saints Ain't Marching In SAVIOUR BALZAN The art of being a friggin hypocrite PAGE 5

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