Brexit proves (again) that Europe’s biggest threat was and still is nationalism and xenophobia

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We speak of external threats like globalization and others like asylum seekers as threats challenging this great Post-World War 2 experiment called the European Project. While the achievements of the European Union are formidable taking into account that we’re not going after each other’s throats after 1945, there is one threat that is the greatest of them all and one we should pay more attention to – nationalism and xenophobia.  

Xenophobia is expensive business for a society. Socially excluding people and creating discord don’t create jobs and economic wellbeing but cost the taxpayer an arm and leg.

Ruffle your nationalistic feathers with generous doses of bravado and you’ll end up like the United Kingdom today: A country that will see its political and economic clout diminished in the European Union thanks to Brexit.

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Tango with the Perussuomalaiset party of Finland and you’ll let loose an ogre

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Brexit is not only a good example that if you stoke the fires of nationalism you’ll get burned but if you try to play the same game as these populist anti-immigration groups you’ll let loose an ogre. This is what happened to former Prime Minister David Cameron and the United Kingdom last week. 

Finland has tried to play ball with the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, our Ukip, but it has only served to poison the air and reinforced an us-and-them divide. Migrants and minorities are the biggest victims of such discord fuelled by the PS and the silence of other parties like the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP).

Even if most of  our media and the political establishment see the PS as “moderate populists with whom they can play ball,” they are anything but that when it comes to immigration policy and cultural diversity.

On immigration issues and cultural diversity to name just a few, the PS is a far-right party.

There are many examples in Europe about the rise of anti-immigration parties that offer simple solutions to complex challenges. The rise of such parties and their ever-rude messages are like a contagion inflicting hatred and hardship on Europe.

William Keegan highlighted this in a recent column in The Guardian:

“We know the shallow, indeed base, rationalisation: he was worried about the electoral threat from Ukip, and made the mistake of thinking that, by conceding a referendum, he could also silence, or at least calm down, the vociferous anti-Europeans within the Conservative party itself.”

Poet Antoine Cassar of Malta shed light on the ogre that is haunting the United Kingdom today:

“Theresa May as next UK prime minister? May is responsible for thousands of deportations and the separation of cross-border families. her husband is a major shareholder in G4S, which makes huge profits from detention centers and those same deportations. And she has repeatedly stated that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, thus making deportations even easier to carry out.”

Should we be surprised that the PS, which saw their popularity nosedive in the polls, is keen on capitalizing on the fallout from Brexit?

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Migrant’s Rights Network: The referendum vote – what will happen to the rights of migrants?

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Don Flynn*
We respond to the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

The vote to leave the European Union has thrown politics into a massive period of uncertainty.

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Read full story here.

It is clear that deep public concern about immigration has been one of the most important factors encouraging 52% of voters to take the drastic action of the probable severing of the connection with the largest economic market in the world.

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Ilta-Sanomat continues to publish racist stories even today

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It’s disingenuous of tabloid Ilta-Sanomat to publish a story on Monday about legendary Finnish sports television commentator Raimo “Höyry” Häyrinen’s racist comments without taking a long look at itself in the mirror. 

The story prints in full the racist comments made by Häyrinen when he talked about the black players on the Colombian and Cameroonian team during a 1990 FIFA World Cup match.  

Ilta-Sanomat pulls a fast one on the reader: it publishes something racist, which some readers will appreciate, but pins the blame on the television sportscaster for making the racist comments in the first place.

Shoddy journalism at its worst.

In 1990, or during the early 1990s, Ilta-Sanomat was busy publishing its own racist stories about groups like the Somalis.

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Read full story (in Finnish) here.

Below are some shameful examples of ads about Somalis published by Ilta-Sanomat in the early 1990s.

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Uyi Osazee: The reality of ethnic and racial profiling in Finland

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Uyi Osazee*

I remember clearly the first time I was profiled by the police in Helsinki. It was the evening rush hour in the city and I had just made my way down the crowded escalator that leads to the underground metro platform in Hakaniemi, just two stops from the city center. As I got off the escalators, a metro was blaring out alarms, signaling it was about to depart. I quickened my steps, half running, half walking, determined to get on it. I rushed forward, hoping to beat the soon closing metro doors. A few paces off the doors, I was stopped by two individuals. They literally jumped in front of me, forcing me to stop abruptly to avoid colliding into them.

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Brexit: Stoke the fires of natonalism and you’ll get burned

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After the United Kingdom decided Thursday to exit from the European Union, the question remains: why?

In many respects, the answer to that question is a similar one that you hear in some European countries why such-and-such country has seen the political rise of populist anti-immigration party.

Finland is a good example of the latter. The populist anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* won 5 seats in the 2007 parliamentary elections. Four years later that number rose to 39 seats.

Nationalism and ultranatonalism, is one of the worst social ills inflicting Europe today. Speech that divides and incites nationalism has its consequences as we saw Thursday in the United Kingdom.

One of the questions we should be asking today is what is the United Kingdom’s and the Tory party’s end game after Brexit. It shouldn’t surprise us that they are probably in the dark about where their nationalism will take them.

Are they going to eat their imagined take-Britain-back nationalism at the table or what?

There is one matter for certain this week: Thursday’s referendum will not only impact Europe but especially the United Kingdom economically. It will fuel as well social ills like Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and many other social ills that socially exclude minorities.

And for what? So that Prime Minister David Cameron gambled to unite his party and lost big time?

What can we learn one important lesson from Brexit? Don’t stoke the fires of nationalism because you’ll get burned.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” 

PS MP Tolppanen’s defection to the SDP is a good example that racism in Finland is still a debate between white people

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A lot of people were surprised Wednesday to hear that former Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Maria Tolppanen, who has made some pretty racist statements in the past, has defected to the Social Democrats (SDP). 

There are two matters that are extremely disappointing and shed light on Finland’s ongoing issues with racism: It’s still a discussion between white Finns who aren’t directly affected by it.

Since the racism issue in Finland is a debate between white people, it’s clear that the social ill isn’t treated seriously. There is a lot of lip service and empty claims that “we’re against racism” that don’t mean much.

In one move, the leader of the SDP, Antti Rinne, also given a serious blow to the party’s credibility on anti-racism issues.

Tolppanen’s defection is a good example as well of the former PS MP’s opportunism and her moral caliber. It also exposes, as we have seen in the polls, that the PS is a sinking ship.

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Read full story here.

I wonder what SDP MP Nasima Razmyar thinks about the defection.

Will the media even care to ask her opinion about the matter?

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” 

We have the means to challenge and beat xenophobia and fascism in today’s Europe

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Even if we should be concerned about the rise of xenophobia and fascism, which disguises itself with populist anti-immigration rhetoric in Europe, there’s one matter that should worry us the most: silence and apathy.

Tomorrow, the referendum in the United Kingdom on whether to stay in the European Union isn’t only a vote for or against but on how much space Britons will give to anti-immigration rhetoric and demagoguery.

Throughout Europe, we have seen countless examples in Hungary, Denmark, Poland, United Kingdom, Finland and others of how xenophobia and creeping fascism have challenged our values for a culturally diverse, socially equal and just Europe.

When challenging the very forces that aim to take us back to an all-white Europe that only existed in rhetoric and myth, it’s important to keep in mind that size doesn’t matter.

The most powerful weapon that we have as activists is our sense of social justice and our never-ending dedication to challenge the very matters that populists and fascists don’t want the public to know about their ugly truth.

Latin America has seen its fair share of social injustice and violence. In Argentina, where I was born, we lived through one of the bloodiest dictatorships  in our history during the so-called dirty war (1976-83) era. Back then, it was relatively easy for a military dictatorship to shut the country off from the outside world; landline phones didn’t work, censorship and self-censorship were rampant.

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