A letter from Rashid H., the Pakistani migrant who was brutally attacked by three white Finnish youths. Where is justice?

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Migrant Tales insight: The police has criticized us for insisting that Rashid H’s case was a hate crime. The police claim that what happened to the Pakistani migrant on February 23 was not a hate crime. They said that they have access to information that is not available to the public and can make better judgements about a crime than us. True, but what about the victim? Certainly, Rashid H and his family have first-hand information as victims. Both of them are adamant: What happened was a hate crime.

The police told Rashid’s wife that what happened to her husband was not a hate crime because “it wasn’t planned.” She even claimed that the police had told her that the assailants were intoxicated and therefore could not be a hate crime. 

One matter that surprises me on some occasions is how rapidly the police determine a crime is not a hate crime. This happened in Rashid H’s case. The following day after the attack, his wife got a call from the police and the first thing she asked was if what happened was a hate crime. The police responded that it wasn’t.

How did they arrive at such a conclusion so rapidly?

Moreover, when I spoke to the investigating officer about the matter, he said that he had interrogated the three assailants and he vouched that they “weren’t racists.” Really? Did he give them a test?  Determining if a person is racist is the wrong way to go about the matter. We should ask instead  the following question: Could what happened or what was said be interpreted as racist?

When the police investigate a crime, they look at matters like who, where and when but rarely why

We believe that our reporting on Rashid H’s case had a positive impact on the police investigation. Initially, the police had charged the three suspects with attempted manslaughter but on April 19, close to two months later, they changed it to attempted murder. 

The three youths were sentenced on May 25 to 9.5 years in prison for their crime.

 


Dear friend,

Even if the district court and court of appeal did not accept what happened to me was a hate crime, I feel today desperate and abandoned. When I was in the hospital with 30 stab wounds, fractured skull and other life-threatening injuries caused by three white Finnish youths, I felt forsaken. Not one person from the government or any newspaper cared to contact me.

I cannot understand this behavior and why.


Read the full story here.

Even if the police claims that what happened was not a hate crime, I have my doubts. The following doubt will always hound me: Would I have been attacked in such a vicious manner if I were a Finn?

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What political capital will the Finnish far-right Perussuomalaiset party gain from Oulu?

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The Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is the first modern Finnish party to capitalize politically on Finland’s Islamophobic and anti-immigration sentiment. With parliamentary elections around the corner on April 14, the question is if the PS will get a boost from the sexual assault cases of Oulu?

Another question is the Blue Reform Party, which split from the PS in June 2017. Will Oulu give it political capital as the PS is hoping?

Considering that the Blue Reform Party have about 2% support in diffrent opinion polls, it is unlikely that will pose a threat in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The PS’ toxic Islamophobic rhetoric and fear-mongering were important factors that helped it to secure its historic parliamentary election victory of 2011, when it won 39 seats from 5 seats in 2007.

Four years later, in 2015, the PS got a boost from a widely covered sexual assault case about a month before the parliamentary elections. The case, which happened in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila, sparked lynch-mob hysteria and fingerpointing on social media and in print media.

The PS became in 2015 with 39 seats the second-biggest party in parliament.

Like before and today, the reporting by the media of sexual assault cases by foreigners is the same: It paints all migrants with a single brush and spreads stereotypes made by Islamophobes and racists. One of these is that sexual assault crimes soared after 2015 when over 30,000 asylum seekers came to the country.

But charts like the one below tell a totally different story than what groups like the PS and politicians of mainstream parties are telling their voters.


The chart above shows that suspected sexual assault cases of minors by Finns totalled 82% in 2017 versus 18% by foreigners. As we can see, the number of overall suspected sexual assault cases in the chart has retreated while rising slightly among foreigners. Source: Statistics Finland.

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Happy MLK Day: The silence of our leaders and friends is more harmful than the words of our enemies

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In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

Martin Luther King Jr.  (1929-68)

Happy MLK Day!

I have no respect for those who preach “social equality” in Finland but who would not raise a finger to challenge social inequality. They are the ones who support and reinforce institutional racism in Finland. 

The fake promises coupled with their silence reminds me, today commemorating Martin Luther King, of a famous quote by him: “…remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

We should ask politicians and others after they talk about “social equality” (yhdenvertaisuus) and “gender equality” (tasa-arvo) what they have done to further these important values.

You would be surprised by their answers that are nothing more than shrouded in silence.

Miriam Attias and Camila Haavisto: A false sense of urgency is hurting social cohesion

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                                          Miriam Attias                                                                Camila Haavisto

In times when the public debate is overheated and citizens and non-citizens alike may feel that they have to quickly form a strong opinion on a topic, it is crucial to ask ourselves how real this feeling is. The sensation of being under threat triggers bodily reactions and these reactions can undermine our capacity to form a rational opinion of an event or a phenomenon. When this happens on a societal level, there is a risk that simplified models of causes and consequences overtake the public debate.

Hence, in the midst of a so-called mediated scandal of morality, as we are now experiencing in light of the debate over sexual crimes and migration, it is important to remember that we do not immediately have to form a strong opinion even if it seems that everybody around us is doing so. When the public debate is fed by a false sense of urgency, the voices of people and groups with narrow agendas tend to gain ground. However, these hastily formed solutions by such individuals and groups with political and ideological interests, rarely form long-lasting strategies for social cohesion.

Responsibility should be also put on the gatekeepers of the so-called legacy media. The timing is now perfect for journalists and other media professionals to calm the overly heated public debate on sexual crimes and migration. If the debate is allowed to escalate freely, more polarisation and hatred will come out of it. The danger: Deconstructing an already polarised debate is very difficult. The good news: There is concrete advice at hand.

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The wise tales of Uncle Toms and the unbalanced reporting of the Finnish media

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Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, which was complicit in the early 1990s of spreading racism wholesale in Finland, hasn’t yet apologized for its reporting about groups like the Somalis. In an interview with a Kurdish Islamophobe, Sheida Sohrabi, Ilta-Sanomat signals that it will never apologize for its shoddy and one-sided reporting. 

Sohrabi, who would be called in the United States an Uncle Tom, or Tuomo setä/Mamu setä in Finnish, is a good example of that label. While there are many definitions and explanation of what is an Uncle Tom, I consider it a close synonym of Stockholm Syndrome.

Articles like the one below are a good example of how tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat use so-called migrants to get across their prejudiced message of other migrant groups like Muslims. It is questionable if Shorabi, who came to Finland when she was five and who is a Kurd, even remembers where she was born.

Moreover, the Kurds are fighting to gain their independence and create their own country from Iraq, Turkey and Iran.


Sohrabi speaks of “cultural differences” in the story even if she came to Finland when she was five years old. Sohrabi is an aspiring National Coalition Party politician who wants to make her mark with Islamophobia. Read the original interview here.

An example of the “quality” of Finnish tabloid journalism of the early 1990s. The Ilta-Sanomat billboard affirms that Somali asylum seekers swindled the authorities in granting them refugee status.

Junes Lokka, Marco de Wit, Gleb Simanov, Miki Sileoni and too many others are examples of people who hate migrants, especially Muslims, even if they are people of foreign origin.

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Dr Abdul Mannan: Muslims want to live in harmony with the rest of Finnish society

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Dr. Abdul Mannan, the imam and the president of the Oulu-based Islamic Society of Northern Finland, is adamant about one matter: Those who are guilty of sexual assault should pay for their crimes. He said that the suspects, which number 16 men, have also brought shame to their community.

“These types of crimes [committed by the suspects] are unacceptable in all religions,” he said. “We strongly condemn what they did because of their gravity and the friction they cause with the rest of society. The whole community is suffering because of their crime.”


Dr. Abdul Mannan.

Dr. Mannan, who has lived 26 years in Finland, said he knows well the country’s Islamic community, which is the second biggest religion in the country with more than 100,000 members after the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Muslims account for 2.8% of the total population.

Being a Muslim in today’s Finland and Europe is sometimes challenging. Since September 2017, the mosque in Oulu was vandalized eight times.

The sexual assault cases in Oulu are a good example of how whole groups are easily labelled.

“The media and journalists carry a lot of responsibility on how others see us [in a negative or positive light],” he said. “Journalists must understand that they play an important role in society. What they say has a big impact.”

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Twitter Oula Silvennoinen: A justified question to the Finnish government

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Amid the hysteria caused by nine sexual abuse cases in Oulu, and the eagerness of the government to punish all Muslims and Finland’s migrant community, Oula Silvennoinen* makes an outstanding point by retweeting @JanneKuusi’s comment. 

He tweets: “In the face of the ministerial delegations and the millions of subsidies, how were the other 1,400 pedophile cases treated with respect to the nine cases [of Oulu]? A justified question. @JanneKuusi. #moraalipaniikki

See Oula Silvennoinen’s tweets here.

 

* Oula Silvennoinen is a historian. 

 

 

 

Oulu has turned Finland into a more hostile place for migrants, especially Muslims 

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A journalist asked me what I thought about the reaction of the politicians to the sexual assault cases in Oulu. Certainly, any sensible person would condemn such acts. But what could we say about the politicians and the media?

My answer: The reaction of the politicians and the media is a clear sign of Finland’s ever-worsening hostile environment for migrants, especially Muslims.

A number of studies published last year, like the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, revealed that out of 12 EU countries studied, Finland was the most hostile to blacks. Racism is an issue in Finland as it is in other parts of Europe.

One may ask why is there a growing hostile environment in this country against migrants and minorities?

The answer is right under our noses: Not challenging our prejudices effectively enough and the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party in 2011. Even if the PS imploded in June, Blue Reform continues to beat the same hostile drum against Muslims.

The PS are the first modern party that vowed to “solve the Somali problem” in Finland.


Is this the bottom line for understanding what happened in Oulu?

In light of the sexual assault cases in Oulu and Helsinki, Blue Reform, which has five ministers in Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government, is ratcheting up and returning to its old populist ways by suggesting changes in Section 9 of the Constitution. The Section states: “A foreigner shall not be deported, extradited or returned to another country, if in consequence he or she is in danger of a death sentence, torture or other treatment violating human dignity.”

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