By Enrique Tessieri
Christian Democrat (KD) Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was quoted as saying on MTV3 that she is in favor of making begging illegal in Finland. Just like many past suggestions by the conservative Räsänen, like her provocative views on homosexuality that caused last year an exodus from the Lutheran Church, her views on begging and how to deal with a group like the Roma of Eastern Europe doesn’t come as a surprise.
While Räsänen uses the term “organized” begging, it’s clear that she is targeting Roma beggars from Eastern Europe that come to Finland.
In order to understand the dynamics of the Finnish government’s tough stand on immigration and its views of certain ethnic groups, Kokoomus Prime Minister appointed last year Räsänen to head the interior ministry in charge of immigration policy.
Her appointment was a clear attempt by the government to not only calm the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, which had gained a historic 39 seats in last year’s election, but to rob it of its anti-immigration thunder.
Räsänen’s stand on gay rights and marriage reflect her conservative views on immigration and Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity. Last year she said there are plans to tighten once again family reunification laws, which were tightened by the previous government.
Her views on immigration are pretty well summed up on a blog entry she wrote on Uusi Suomi: “Our country’s culture, values and morals have been built around Christian ethics and we must not abandon them starting from our homes, day care centers and when bringing up children.”
What Räsänen is saying in the quote is that she doesn’t believe in cultural diversity but that immigrants should assimilate — not integrate — to Finnish society. Assimilation is one-way integration, or something like sitting on your behind and requiring immigrants to adapt to your culture while you do nothing except watch.
Some have criticized Räsänen’s double standards. On the one hand she claims to uphold Christian values concerning the family but doesn’t appear to be bothered by minors who are refugees in Finland that are forced to live without their parents because of strict reunification laws.
While Räsänen likes to give the public simple answers to complex problems, her latest view on begging will not resolve anything but complicate the problem even more. We will soon see pictures of the Finnish police rounding up, arresting and deporting women and children from Finland. It will reveal and reinforce the image that we are an intolerant country that doesn’t have a clue on how to deal with a social problem like begging in our society.
It prefers instead to brush the problem under the rug by making “poverty illegal” by patronizing to parties like the PS.