The attack by arsonists on Friday of a Buddhist temple in Turku’s Moisio’s district is another worrisome sign of how a deranged group of people can undermine Finland’s good name. If there is any finger-pointing for what happened, it should be at some Finnish politicians who, owing to the April 2011 elections, have fuelled such acts by their populist statements and shameful lack of leadership.
Immigrants who live in Finland and those that will come to work here are being singled out by some opportunist politicians as scapegoats for the country’s economic woes. Social Democrat MP Eero Heinäluoma and MP Kari Rajamäki are good examples of how their anti-immigrant statements spill over into racism.
Heinäluoma, for example, made the incredible remark recently that immigrants will fuel racism because they will take jobs away from Finns. Rajamäki likes to call asylum-seeker to Finland “refugee shoppers.”
Why haven’t Heinäluoma and Rajamäki condemned acts of racism in Finland forcefully? The answer is disturbingly obvious.
These politicians should not forget SDP’s roots and how the party thanks to Väinö Tanner (1881-1966) played a critical role in not permitting Finnish Jews to be deported to Nazi concentration camps during World War 2.
The vice president of the Vietnamese Buddhist Community in Finland, Ari Vuokko, told Finnish Broadcast Company (YLE) that it wasn’t the first time Buddhist families in this country have been the target of attacks by racists.
Swastika signs had been sprayed on traffic signs near the temple.
“This is shocking and worrisome,” he said. “Do worshippers dare use this temple, can people practice their faith in Finland?”
Finland was recently named by Newsweek as the best country in the world in terms of health, economic dynamism, or openness of its economy and the breadth of its corporate sector, education, political environment, and quality of life.
With attacks of the Buddhist temple serving as a rude reminder of what racism can do to a minority community and society, we should ask Newsweek to include in their survey how open a society is to cultural diversity.