For those of us who have been anti-racism activists for many years, Tuesday, July 28, offered us something we hadn’t seen before in Finland: A spontaneous 15,000-20.000-strong demonstration against racism and fascism in Helsinki. Was that very important demonstration a Rosa Parks moment and an important watershed to make Finland a more inclusive country?
Was it a wake-up call that we have a racism and fascism problem in Finland and want to express our revulsion of such social ills?
“The reason why the I have a dream demonstration took place [of July 28] was because we Finns aren’t racists [and fascists],” a teacher told Migrant Tales.
Being a member of the migrant or visible minority community in Finland has been challenging to say the least during the past decade.
A party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, which rose from near-obscurity to become the third-biggest party in the 2011 parliamentary elections, successfully exploited xenophobia and Islamophobia.
Just like Islamophobia before Anders Breivik killed 77 people on 22/7, the PS too thought that it was unstoppable. It’s motto was a simple one: When the party’s popularity falls in the polls just add more xenophobic and Islamophobic juice in the campaign message to lure voters.
If the likes of some PS politicians like Jussi Halla-aho, Olli Immonen, Juho Eerola, James Hirvisaari, Teuvo Hakkarainen and a long list of others were to be believed, migrants and minorities in this country were being victimized by such politicians that we are a threat, social-welfare bums, criminals and rapists.
Every now and then you’ll even see politicians from other parties, like Pika Kauma of the National Coalition Party (NCP), jump on the racist bandwagon.
Kauma, who didn’t get reelected, claimed that migrant women were getting social welfare to buy new baby carriages, which social welfare officials flatly denied.
Thanks to the silence of the politicians, some like the Social Democratic Party started in 2010 to copy the anti-immigration rhetoric of the PS. Parties like the NCP even rolled the red carpet for the PS and helped them to become one of the biggest parties in the country.
Add to the latter a complacent media that regurgitates the racism of some politicians and you have a new political scenario like the one today.
It goes without saying that those migrants and minorities that have suffered the most due to the PS’ hostile campaign against us see July 28 as an important date. It’s as if all those who are victims and/or outraged by the PS’ hostility and their urban legends said enough is enough.
While we should thank ourselves for our work on the anti-racism front, special thanks should go to PS MP Immonen, who with his inflated bravado and outright stupidity or genious, revealed his and the PS’ true racist and fascist colors.
Even if this declaration of war against multiculturalism was written by him, the question is who inspired and advised him to write and publish it on Facebook on July 25 at 12:06am?
Whoever it was, alcohol, his wife, the Danish People’s Party or himself, doesn’t really matter.
Have matters changed in Finland concerning the xenophobic and Islamophobic narrative that parties like PS keep alive?
It’s still too early to say but we’re off to a good start.
* 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.