Yesterday, I went to the small town of Dingli in Malta to watch a street procession for Easter. There were bands and the scouts who played music. Children and adults had dressed up as persons from the Bible’s New Testament and marched through the streets of Dingli while the story of Jesus’ life was read out over loudspeakers.
I found the event very well organised, the costumes colourful and creative and the citizens of Dingli giving their best to impersonate characters from the Bible. I enjoyed the evening – until something happened that shocked me so much that I could not believe it at first. But see for yourself.
One of the highlights of the procession were the children. They were cute, sweet and lovely.
But Saint Mary Band Club of Dingli also had one child who visibly suffers from Down syndrome, a handicapped child. Oh shock. “What do we do with the disabled child?” the organisers asked. And had an idea: “We have the perfect role for the handicapped and disadvantaged child.” This is what they came up with:
Yes, you are seeing correctly. This boy was given the job to announce and walk around town in front of Satan. The devil. The impersonation of evil. When I saw this boy step out of the hall with the sign “Satan” in front of him – after dozens of other children had announced Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the Apostles and so on – I could not believe my eyes. I was shocked.
What did the organisers think?
- Disability is God’s punishment. He deserves it.
- This boy is dangerous. We need to warn the whole town.
- We cannot let him announce an Apostle. That would be too much of this integration stuff.
- We don’t have a black child.
On the Official Malta Tourism Site, the event was announced, inter alia, as follows:
The principal aim of the author for this production is to convey the message of God’s Love for Humanity and through such love, God wants to release us from our sins through His Son, Jesus Christ. The message is one of triumph over the darkness of evil and of everlasting happiness. Through this Pageant, the organisers wish the general public to understand that only GOD can make a difference in our lives.
Maybe I imagined this, but I had the impression that I was not the only one in the audience who was shocked. If you were in Dingli this Saturday as well, I would love to hear from you.
(C) for all photos: Andreas Moser, 31 March 2012.