By Enrique Tessieri
Taking into account the hostility and racism that Finland’s Somali community suffers, the news isn’t about racism that such nationals experience but how little has been done to address the issue. A story on YLE news Monday brings to light (again) what we all know about the country’s fourth-largest immigrant community: racism and exclusion are the rule, not the exception.
One could ask a simple question concerning the situation. What has been done in Finland after an April 2009 survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) made its disturbing conclusions? Let’s see…Yes, now I remember! We had an election in April which prized some in the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party with a ticket to parliament for spreading racist myths about groups like the Somalis.
It would be unfair to pin blame only the PS. What is even more shameful is that traditional parties that knew better hopped on the PS bandwagon and began to echo their rhetoric.
Helsingin Sanomat wrote the following after the FRA study was published almost two years ago: “When it comes to treatment at a bank or a shop, Finland’s Somalis emerged among the groups most discriminated against. However, compared with other countries’ minorities the Finnish Somalis were more informed of competent authorities who could give them support or advice. Yet some 69% of the interviewed Finnish Somalis said that they did not know of any organization that could offer them support services to victims of discrimination.”
If Finland is going to deal with racism it will have to address the discrimination that Somalis face in our society.
Showing the problem on national television is a step in the right direction. Even so, the YLE story is nothing more than jumper cables that attempt to kick start a dead battery of a car in -30C temperature. Even if the car’s engine will start, we still haven’t resolved the problem, which is the existing battery.
Finland needs a new battery when debating and finding proactive solutions to the role of ever-growing racism in our society.