Finland’s demographic landscape is changing (again)

by , under All categories, Enrique

Finland is presently in the midst of one of its biggest demographic changes in its history due to the rapid growth of its immigrant community. Our ever-growing cultural diversity as a nation has brought out the best in many of us but has encouraged some of us to throw in the towel on sanity. 

Is Finland in danger of becoming a Hungary or Greece?

Those promoting Hungary’s far-right Jobbik or Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party model on immigration and cultural diversity are none other than the usual band of extremists of parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), who see nothing wrong with these xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups.

They don’t see these parties as a danger because Jobbik and Golden Dawn promote the same matter as the PS: ethnic purity at any cost, even losing our Nordic liberal democracy to far-right extremism.

Migrant Tales wrote in a recent blog entry: “In many respects it [open discrimination of immigrants and visible minorities] will look like Russification all over again in the 2010s but with different players – the PS are the Russians and immigrants/visible minorities are personified through Eugen Schauman.”

When I moved to Finland a second time in the late-1970s, our foreign population totalled about 10,000 people, or around 0.2% of the population. Most of these so-called “foreigners” were Finnish expats who had moved back to the country.

The biggest national group living in Finland at the time were Finns who were naturalized Swedes.

Back then, Finland was in its own league when it came to cultural diversity. Albania was the other European country that resembled Finland. People joked back then that our country was the Albania of Europe since it had so few immigrants.

Our foreign population started to grow rapidly and steadily after it hit rock bottom in the 1970s, when it totaled about 7,000 souls. By 2002-03, Finland’s immigrant population passed the 100,000 barrier for the first time, reaching 103,687, or 2% of the population.

Our immigrant population totals today 183,133 (3.4%).

With the rise of far-right, populist and anti-immigration parties growing throughout Europe, we in Finland should be especially concerned about how such a trend could impact our country socially, politically and above all economically.

Finland needs right-wing populist and anti-immigration parties like a hole in the head.

We need more than ever today leadership and proactive solutions to make cultural diversity work.

 

  1. honrigue

    Who are these anti-semitic people in Finland? Surely not immigrants who represent certain other Middle Eastern religion? They are known for their love and tolerance towards semites, gays and lesbians, right? I’m not saying that this applies to all people who represent this specific religion, but wouldn’t be very surprised to find out, that within Finland, the most extreme views toward these people are found among them. I could be wrong. Food for thought, nonetheless.

    • Mark

      Honrigue

      Who are these anti-semitic people in Finland? Surely not immigrants who represent certain other Middle Eastern religion?

      Well, it would be surprising if the tensions in the middle East were not translated in any way to communities living abroad. This does not condone the tension, but rather encourages you to have a proper political and cultural understanding of the problem and not simply to take one side because ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. It is also true that Muslims are the largest group in Finland discriminated against because of their religion, so if you are interested in opposing that kind of discrimination, you know that the far bigger problem affects Muslims and those discriminating against them are native Finns.

      They are known for their love and tolerance towards semites, gays and lesbians, right?

      This is a question? If we go on the media, on negative stereotypes and on the counter-Jihad narratives, then clearly not. However, love is a key part of the Muslim faith that many Muslims seek to practice. As it is, gays and lesbians have had their share of discrimination and persecution from the general populus in Finland, from fundamentalist Christians and all too recently, from members of the current government (Räsänen). Historically, the Far Right mob have practiced anti-semitism as part of their ‘doctrine’, but that doctrine has changed, though not everyone in Finland or throughout Europe’s Far Right, can give up old habits so easily.

      I’m not saying that this applies to all people who represent this specific religion

      But the only religion you take the trouble to point the finger at happens to be Islam! Yep, very convincing. I’m not a racist but,…it’s not that I don’t like gays, but…

      …the most extreme views toward these people are found among them. I could be wrong. Food for thought, nonetheless.

      My guess is that ‘extreme’ is a purely relative term here. You might find a person in Finland who is bitterly opposed to what Israel has done in Gaza, but who is not going to express that in anything but verbal terms. And then you might have someone who is bitterly opposed to Somalis coming to Finland because of the perceived threat to Finland’s identity and is quite happy to accost a 14-year old girl on the Metro in Helsinki, as was reported earlier this year. As that young girl experiences abuse weekly on her way to school, one could very well ask who are the extremists here? Whose behaviour has the most extreme consequences?

      Indeed, the kind of extreme violence that Finland has experienced in recent years has been home-grown and centred around a kind of anti-society nihilism, with no apparent religious overtones at all.

      Food for thought? I haven’t seen you apply much thought to this topic yet, Honrigue, but rather, spewing in mild form the extremists views of Finland’s Far Right movements.

  2. tp1

    We can see exactly the familiar pattern here with Mark:

    1) If someone from Perussuomalaiset or just any other native finn even criticises islam or immigrants, Mark will condemn it no questions asked

    2) If a muslim not only critisises but even threatens jews, Mark starts to seek for reasons and understanding for this behaviour.

    I really can’t understand that someone would be so openly hypocrite and drives double standards.

    • Mark

      tp1

      We can see exactly the familiar pattern here with Mark:

      1) If someone from Perussuomalaiset or just any other native finn even criticises islam or immigrants, Mark will condemn it no questions asked

      2) If a muslim not only critisises but even threatens jews, Mark starts to seek for reasons and understanding for this behaviour.

      I really can’t understand that someone would be so openly hypocrite and drives double standards.

      I rarely condemn anything ‘no questions asked’. I’m always asking questions, and nothing is ‘off the table’ in this regard, and certainly not my own beliefs or even those people that are obvioulsy in need more protection in society. Even the rights of criminals should be respected.

      In regard to 2, you are creating a no-win situation for me here. For example, you conveniently forget that you offered these examples as reasons for not having Muslim immigrants in Finland. It is important therefore to test the validity of your justification.

      And testing that validity means testing the idea that this somehow represents something innately violent or destructive about Muslims. Then it is important to look at the political and historical circumstances to see where that tension between the groups comes from.

      Historically, Finns have their own history of internal conflicts and summary executions of innocent people. You wouldn’t use that to condemn Finns, and you certainly wouldn’t use it to claim that Finns are somehow less civilised than other Europeans and so shouldn’t be allowed to emigrate to other European countries. All countries have a history of these kinds of conflicts – some long buried, some still ongoing. My point is that you should show more understanding of this rather than trying to manipulate these problems to serve your own agenda to discriminate against Muslims.

      In the same way, if you said to me that Finns should not be allowed into the UK because they are a violent and argumentative people and the proof is that there have been incidents of racial violence against immigrants in Finland, I would say that that is ridiculous. This is no different and it’s certainly not a double standard that I hold.

      But I’m not surprised you don’t want to understand. Any message that is even slightly more nuanced than an advert on the back of a cereal packet is going to confuse you, tp1. 😉

  3. JM

    I don’t really see the comparison to Hungary. Hungary has been since the breakup of Austria-Hungary one of the most homogenous countries in Europe with only the Romani people being a notable minority. Finland in contrast has for centuries been a country of the Finns, Sami and Finland Swedes and has had two official languages for quite a while (and been under Swedish and Russian sovereignty). Furthermore, many in Hungary are still bitter about the country losing 72% of its territory because of the Treaty of Trianon and and the separation of several million Hungarians from their homeland. The far-rght in Hungary is often tied to irredentism and you can’t understand the modern day rise of the far-right in Hungary without understanding Hungarian irredentism and the often cited discrimination of ethnic Hungarian minorities in neighbouring Romania, Slovakia and Serbia (Vojvodina).

    Finland doesn’t really have that sense of irredentism unless you consider the “Karjala takaisin” concept. But that’s not a mainstream one and is very small compared to 72% territorial loss.

  4. tp1

    Mark

    In regard to 2, you are creating a no-win situation for me here. For example, you conveniently forget that you offered these examples as reasons for not having Muslim immigrants in Finland. It is important therefore to test the validity of your justification.

    Where did you get that from?

    I didn’t comment anything about not having any immigrants. This was my only comment in this whole thread and I only pointed out how you react depending if it’s a finn or a muslim who has committed the actions.

    And by the way, I have never even said I have something against muslim immigrants, so it’s very rude lie to claim that I don’t want to have muslim immigrants in Finland.

    • Mark

      tp1

      I didn’t comment anything about not having any immigrants. This was my only comment in this whole thread and I only pointed out how you react depending if it’s a finn or a muslim who has committed the actions.

      Maybe it comes from comments like these that you have made:

      This is what is wrong in mentality like yours. You want to wait until shit hits the fan before acting. People with common sense want to act BEFORE the problems become reality.

      What ‘shit’ is that then?

      and this:

      I know it’s only the minority of muslims, but it only takes few to do a terrorist attack.

      and this:

      And here is one more example of problems caused by muslim immigrants. This is also very severe, as they are threatening the people who gave them home. Sick, I would say.

      and this:

      The muslim immigrants tried to kill that other muslim immigrant because he belong to certain group of muslims.

      and this:

      When immigrants, muslims, etc are guilty of violent attacks against natives, you immediately start to search for reasons from the native population and their racism.

      and this:

      But do you think it’s nonsense to be afraid that this [muslims demonstrating against Far Right in Germany went on a rampage when challenged by police] would happen in Finland also in future if immigration goes like it goes in Germany?

      Seems to me that it’s very clear that you have a thing about Muslims, Farang/tp1

  5. tp1

    Seems to me that it’s very clear that you have a thing about Muslims, Farang/tp1

    If I point out the truth that there are problems caused by muslims, it doesn’t mean that I would like to keep all muslims out of Finland. I brought the examples in the discussion to challenge your and your friends’ ideas that ALL PROBLEMS are originally because of white europeans.

    No wonder it’s difficult to discuss with you, because you make those sick interpretations of others.

    • Mark

      tp1

      If I point out the truth that there are problems caused by muslims, it doesn’t mean that I would like to keep all muslims out of Finland.

      So what would you like to see? If you don’t want to keep ‘all muslims out of Finland’, what do you want to see?

      I brought the examples in the discussion to challenge your and your friends’ ideas that ALL PROBLEMS are originally because of white europeans.

      I don’t think anyone here thinks that social problems only originate with white europeans. But I CAN see why you would want to believe that. It’s very easy to argue against. But, it’s a straw man, all the same.

  6. tp1

    So what would you like to see? If you don’t want to keep ‘all muslims out of Finland’, what do you want to see?

    I want to see migration in a way that immigrants put some effort in learning how things work in their new country and stop demanding changes based on their own culture.

    I want to see immigrants deported immediately if they break the law. No excuses.

    • Mark

      tp1

      I want to see migration in a way that immigrants put some effort in learning how things work in their new country and stop demanding changes based on their own culture.

      I guess you ignored the point about immigrants exercising their rights as free people to develop advocacy, to establish places of worship and religious-sponsored institutions, including faith-based schools? Do you object to Muslims doing this kind of thing?

      I want to see immigrants deported immediately if they break the law. No excuses.

      So, an immigrant that downloads an mp3 illegally should be deported? An immigrant that is caught speeding should be deported? And immigrant that gets into a fight in a bar after being called a ‘black ****’ and throws a punch should be deported? An immigrant cannot make a mistake like a Finn, and the entire family of that immigrant will also suffer the consequences of that deportation, even though they are innocent. Have you considered that? In other words, your ‘no excuses’ nonsense is a recipe for human misery, discrimination, and additional expense.

      Imagine this, a boy arrives in Finland at the age of 10. He is educated to university level, and one day has a couple of drinks at lunch time. Around 4.00 o’clock, he heads home in his car, unaware that his is .01 over the drink drive limit. He’s stopped, tested, arrested and promptly convicted. So, all that investment in making this immigrant a productive member of society is wasted because he’s deported (God knows where).

      There is no proportionality or sense in your proposal, only bitterness towards immigrants and a desire to somehow ‘crack the whip’ at them.

  7. tp1

    Yes, there is sense.

    Immigrant should be extra careful until he has been given citizenship. After that, he should be treated as a Finn.

    But hey, this is just my opinion.

  8. Mark

    tp1

    Immigrant should be extra careful until he has been given citizenship. After that, he should be treated as a Finn.

    Are you changing your story or what? So by immigrants you mean who, those here on a visa? Those whose asylum claims are ongoing? Those with permanent residency, but who see no reason to claim Finnish citizenship?

    Still, you are heading in a better direction, so I shouldn’t be too critical of your seeming inconsistencies.

    Why is it that you almost never reply to actual examples that are presented to you that somehow refute or test a specific claim you have made or a position that you have taken?

    In other words, you still haven’t dealt with the real policy issue of exactly where you draw the line. You haven’t tested the fairness of that policy, and you certainly haven’t asked whether that policy conflicts with any legal or constitutional commitments to protect the rights of individuals, regardless of their status in Finland. Again and again tp1, you fail to bring anything but the most crude level of analysis to these debates, and a complete lack of willingness to even begin to understand that more is most certainly needed and indeed practiced in the real world of modern day Finland!

  9. tp1

    Are you changing your story or what? So by immigrants you mean who, those here on a visa? Those whose asylum claims are ongoing? Those with permanent residency, but who see no reason to claim Finnish citizenship?

    Pretty much yes. When person has got Finnish citizenship, he should be treated like he is a Finn. No matter what his background is, he is a Finn, just like me.

  10. tp1

    In other words, you still haven’t dealt with the real policy issue of exactly where you draw the line

    You are right. I wouldn’t deport people for downloading stuff from internet, so definitely there should be line somewhere. Crimes of violence or any crime which put people in danger should be reasons for deporting, also stealing and stuff like that. But yes, this is not so straightforward…

    • Mark

      tp1

      But yes, this is not so straightforward…

      Okay, nice to see you acknowledge some complexity in the situation. I also maintain that adding a deportation to an immigrants sentence is treating them differently in the eyes of the law. The Finnish constitution demands that all citizens are treated equally, and I think that is a principle that should have no exceptions.

  11. tp1

    But still, there is no point to go to details, because these ideas I present would never ever become reality. They are just illustrating the way I think and believe.

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