Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s disinformation bubble about racism and Others

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Is it surprising that whenever President Sauli Niinistö comments on asylum seekers, Muslims, and the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, he sticks his foot in his mouth?

The latest gaffe comes on Wednesday at a new session of parliament, where President Niinistö was quoted as saying about he hasn’t heard similar comments about migrants made by the Islamophobic PS as in 2017.

“At the time in in 2017, the Perussuomalaiset were electing a new chairperson and in the debates on television migrants were not just framed as an aesthetic disadvantage,” he was quoted as saying in Uusi Suomi. “That caught my attention. Now I have not heard any comments of the kind.”

One matter that caught my attention about this story is that it was only reported in Uusi Suomi.

Mr. President, when you make such incredulous claims, aren’t you normalizing racism in this country, which runs contrary to the Finnish values you want migrants to embrace?

Have you heard of the Oulu sexual assault cases and how parties like the PS, and the National Coalition Party with equal gusto, have used it to spread fear and attract voters? Do you remember what you said about these cases in your New Year’s speech?

Does President Niinistö recall a PS campaign video that encourages people to violence against asylum seekers and migrants? Here is the link.



President Niinistö’s prejudices and apparent ignorance about racism is one source that feeds Finland’s hostile environment against migrants and minorities.

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Tapani Brotherus: The present refugee atmosphere in Finland “is part of a phase”

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Former ambassador to Chile (1971-76) Tapani Brotherus, 80, is a hero to many. Thanks to his efforts, many enemies of Augusto Pinochet’s military junta would have ended imprisoned, tortured, and dead today. 

Brotherus’ example to help Chileans escape the clutches of a brutal regime inspired the screening of a six-part television series in spring called Invisible heroes.


See original TV interview (in Finnish) here.

Even if 9/11 is a day of mourning for the United States, the original 9/11 happened in Chile in 1973, when General  Pinochet violently overthrew democratically elected President Salvador Allende with the full backing of the United States.

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Actions of the Finnish police and Yle reveal multicultural incompetence in coverage of Oulu sexual assault cases

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It is odd how little Yle takes the blame for being the facilitator of anti-immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment in regards to the sexual assault cases of Oulu. Migrant Tales documented 77 stories published between November 27 and February 13. On January 14, Yle published in one day 13 stories about the topic!  

When compared with a similar sexual abuse case of minors involving white Finns, there was a different reaction. The story about the pedophile ring accused of sexually abusing 6-15-year-old boys lasted only a week in the news with 7 stories published by Yle.


Are attacks against Muslims more common today due to the hostile environment against migrants and minorities? As far as we know, the picture above is of a 10-year-old Muslim girl who was attacked by a classmate. It reads: “What do they teach [children] at Finnish homes? That Muslims are terrorists? The little girl [in the picture above] is spending a normal day at school when four boys [classmates] tried to rip off her hijab from her head and kicked her unconscious. We are not talking now about a migrant but about a victim. @iltalehti [tabloid] I want you to write out loud that racism must stop once for all, this girl is an angel!” Read the full story here.

Typically, the police are tightlipped about giving statements about sexual abuses against minors, but in the case involving people of migrant backgrounds, there is an exception.

Writes Yle: “Police have faced criticism for quickly publicizing the case and other similar ones in Oulu. Their response is that grooming on social media seemed to be a phenomenon at the time, and it was necessary to inform and warn the public. Authorities stress that online grooming cases have included both Finnish and foreign suspects.”

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PART II: Migrant child custody in Finland aren’t always open-and-shut cases

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This is a follow-up story that was published on April 13 about a family and four daughters who have come under the scrutiny of the child-protection authorities. 

The ongoing drama of the Muslim family continues: three of the girls, aged 9, 7 and 2, are in a foster home while another one aged 14 is in another one for older children. The mother, who is an Iraqi who moved to the country in the early 2000s, is without her children but lives again together with her husband. 

The family has a lawyer but they are not too happy with him after child protection took custody of their children four months ago.


Go to the original website here.

“He [the lawyer] never explains anything to us and when we demand answers from him, he says that he knows what he’s doing and does not need any advice from us,” said a relative of the couple on the phone.

The mother of the four daughters once asked the child-protection staffers why she cannot have her children back. They allegedly told her it was because she is “a bad mother” who “cannot protect her children.”

It appears that the parents of the four children under child-care custody have not been told that the mother has a right to get them back. The mother can ask for such a plan from child protection, who in turn will give a list of demands that she must fulfil to get custody of her children.

“This ordeal happened four months ago when the mother and father were fighting at home,” said the relative. “Both were yelling at each other and the mother asked one of the daughters to call the police. The police came and the mother and children ended up in a shelter. After a while, the mother had to leave but her daughters remained [under child protection custody].”

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Does the Press Freedom Index give us a complete story about freedom of the press?

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Freedom of expression is a human right. To express oneself without fear of being persecuted, killed, harassed and/or jailed, is a fundamental right. While the 2019 Press Freedom Index ranks countries according to how journalists can conduct their work safely, the index isn’t comprehensive, even misleading. 

Should there be an index for what the media allows minorities and migrants to write and challenge the national narrative about such groups? Stories about migrants like asylum seekers are commonly one-sided and only give an incomplete picture of their lives.

The media is interested in writing about drowned asylum seekers in the Mediterranean but less so about their rights and exploitation on land.

If there were an index that would measure how much the national media permits minorities and migrants to write about their narrative on their own terms, I would bet that the Press Freedom Index list would be very different.

In Finland, the country where I live, ranks second on the 2019 Press Freedom Index list. Even so, can minorities and migrants write freely about racism and discrimination in society? Why do large dailies like Helsingin Sanomat treat such stories with less interest if it does not fit their news narrative?

Moreover, why are there so few minorities employed as full-time reporters and why aren’t there any working as editors?

I know for a fact that if I were to write about migrants and minorities for the Finnish media like I do in Migrant Tales, there would be a good chance that my writing would be rejected.

Disregarding Other voices in society is a serious matter and should be addressed in the Reporters Without Borders index.

Go here if you want to read about how biased in 2015 the Finnish media was when writing about migrants.

Go to website here.

 

The Finnish media’s ongoing fascination with Islamophobes and racists like Jussi Halla-aho

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What has surprised me about Finland is how the media and others seem fascinated by Islamophobes making racist statements. It gets media attention and helps you win elections. Why does racism and fascism appeal to us? Is it because their racist views resonate with some of us? 

By the way, where are those powerful editorials by dailies like Helsingin Sanomat that speak out against Islamophobia and racism? Where are those editorials encouraging a Finland that is more inclusive and condemning negative narratives about migrants and minorities?

Instead, our media prefers debating  Perussuomalaiset* (PS) chairperson Jussi Halla-aho’s past toxic and racist blog posts in the face of government talks. In these posts, he wishes left-green women get raped by foreigners, he insults and threatens to shoot gays, near-constantly insults Somalis and Islam.

Considering what he wrote, and we should never forget this type of open hostility, should the PS even be considered a candidate in a new government?

An apology or renouncing what he said will not do. Just like a virus, the place of his writings is either put in quarantine or destroyed altogether. 

One of the problems with challenging toxic people like Halla-aho and his extremist ideology is that it is done mostly by white Finns who may have good intentions but don’t have first-hand experience with racism, discrimination and being scapegoated. As long as Finland sits on the fence on racism and fascism and only white people speak for migrants and minorities, the problem will worsen.

Exaggerating?

Remember when Léo Custódio made the following observation below?


See original posting here.

What about adding a new line?

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QUOTE OF THE DAY Khadidiatou Sylla: Success and hatred

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Khadidiatou Sylla gave a talk at Turin’s Casarcobaleno this month together with Mor Ndaiye about life in Italy. There was a lot of intersectionality that came out  in her talk: being black, being a woman, third culture, West African, Italian cultural and ethnic diversity, among others. Education and labor markets in Europe are highly racialized and segregated. What about if you excel more than those that hold power and, in many cases, your fate?

Khadidiatou leaves us with a quote as an answer: “Did I succeed just to be hated more?”

Khadidiatou Sylla at her University of Turin graduation. She majored in languages and modern literature.