What are we to think about a direct initiative that got over 50,000 signatures today to demote Finland’s second official language to elective status at schools? While this initiative stands a slim chance of passing in parliament, it shows how intolerance has raised its head in Finland recently.
Even if those that are lobbying against Finland’s 290,977-strong Swedish-language minority claim that by eliminating mandatory Swedish will help people learn more “useful” languages like Russian, the whole campaign is nothing more than a red herring.
Finland has lots of polyglots despite the fact that Swedish is mandatory at schools.
Swedish as a mother tongue is spoken by 5.36% of the population, according to the Population Register Center.
Vapaa kielivalinta, which has spearheaded the initiative together with Suomalaisuuden liitto, the youth associations of the Perussuomalaiset and National Coalition Party, claims the goal of the anti-Swedish-langauge initiative is:
- freedom of choice of languages in schools
- reduction of unnecessary language demands in public service
- national action for these issues.
Even if those that are endorsing this effort claim with a poker face that it will further tolerance, it will actually do the opposite. At least three of the associations promoting the initiative have very strong anti-cultural diversity stands.
Suomalsiuuden liitto, for example, has played a key role in undermining cultural diversity in Finland from the onset of independence. The chairman of Vapaa kielivalinta, Ilmari Rostila, is a Tampere city councilman for the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset party.
If the initiative passed in parliament, we may well ask what is the next matter that we’ll try to dismantle of our cultural diversity, which has been on the defensive for quite some time.
If Swedish is the second official language of this country, why is it being treated with such contempt?
Because there are groups that are bent on destroying as much of our cultural diversity as a nation as possible.