As the pieces settle and attempt to find their places after the Charlie Hebdo attack, it is surprising how not only anti-Islam and anti-immigration groups are taking political advantage of what happened but even those who you thought didn’t have such agendas. Another important expected narrative is what the media is telling us and what it’s not.
Let’s make no mistake, what happened in Paris is a tragedy. Without dishing out simple answers that permit us to remain in our ideological and ethnic comfort zones, there is an important question: Did Charlie Hebdo attack have anything to do with free speech? Or was it about war?
If we seek an answer from Perussuomalaiset (PS)* politicians like MP Olli Immonen, it’s clear that the attack didn’t have to do with free speech. He writes on his blog that as a result of what happened, Finland and Europe should halt immigration from Muslim country and give incentives for those that live in Europe to go back to where they came?
Another politician playing to the Islamophobic I-told-you-so tune is PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who paints all Muslims with a single brush on his blog by claiming that the world view of the majority of Muslims is no different from those that carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Such opportunistic statements by Immonen and Halla-aho show how some Europeans think about cultural diversity. They have no solutions except for spewing hatred and fueling suspicion of other groups. If Europe were run by the likes of them, we’d be on a new crusade like the Spanish Inquisition.
While it’s expected that some politicians are exploiting the tragedy to further their political agendas, it was surprising to read the comments of Risto Uimonen, the chair of Finland’s press watchdog the Council for Mass Media in Finland, who appeared to affirm a clash of civilizations between the West and Islamic world, according to Yle in English.
“This is a strong attack on democracy and freedom of speech,” he was quoted as saying. “It pits two understandings of democracy, western and Islamic, against each other–and they can’t be reconciled.”
If you are interested, why not join the new Facebook group Je ne suis pas Risto Uimonen?
The same argument that Uimonen uses is employed by the far right and anti-immigration groups. In simple English it means the following: We want to keep Europe white, ethnically and culturally you will never be like us and therefore you are not welcome to live with us.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.