Finland’s wishful thinking of populism and racism

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Compared with four or six years ago, the level of xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment has reached fever pitch in Finland. There is so much news and labeling against asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse community that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with all that’s being written. 

Moreover, perceptions like rising crime and rape cases caused by asylum seekers are being constantly reinforced by one party in the government – the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* – with the blessings of the two other partners,  the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP).

Like the Center Party and NCP, the police drags as well its feet and plays down the rise of racism and the threat of far-right groups in Finland with their silence and tacit ideological support of anti-immigration groups.

Looking at Finland today and its eroding international image due to xenophobia the government and institutions like the police service have fueled the growth of racism and far-right groups in Finland with their silence and mixed statements.

Näyttökuva 2016-1-30 kello 9.35.26
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One of the most important pieces of news to come out from a press conference Friday was by members of the police administration that revealed that suspected rapes caused by asylum seekers totaled 0.08% of all cases in 2015. You read right: not 8%, 0.8% but 0.08% of all suspected rape cases.

While this is good news it comes too late. For months, politicians from the government with the help of the media have fuelled fear-mongering and hysteria of asylum seekers.

As we all know, when people speak of asylum seekers in a xenophobic manner it doesn’t only label this group but all migrants and minorities that live in Finland. Most of us are law-abiding tax-paying members of Finnish society.

So what did the police administration state in YLE News?

“Police Inspector Tommi Reen pointed out that since the total number of rapes reported last year was just over one-thousand, foreign nationals and asylum seekers accounted for a relatively small proportion of these crimes. National police commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen also said that he didn’t want to label all asylum seekers as criminals.”

Thank you police administration and National Police Commissioner Kolehmainen but the impact and damage that your silence and mixed statements have caused to members of our culturally diverse community and on Finland’s international image is clearly visible.

As a result of your vacillation, parties that base their support on xenophobia, like the PS and far-right groups, are laughing all the way to the bank.

It didn’t take long for the PS to challenge the police administration’s claim about crime and rapes committed by foreigners.

PS MP Tom Packalén, a former policeman who is building a political career by labeling and victimizing migrants in Finland, put in question the police administration’s numbers.

Without offering any facts never mind reliable sources, Packalén claimed that he doesn’t understand the logic of the police administration’s claim about the low number of suspected rape cases. “The amount of rapes committed by asylum seekers is shockingly high,” he said.

Migrant Tales appears to be one of the few publications or blogs in Finland that have warned about the connection between the PS and xenophobic Danish People’s Party (DPP). Many of the extremist anti-immigration suggestions by the PS, like putting asylum seekers in camps, is a direct copy of DDP policy.

PS Justice Minister Jari Lindström considered Denmark’s ever-tougher immigration policy of confiscating valuables from asylum seekers as “a smart idea,” according to Helsingin Sanomat.

And then there was also retired hockey star legend Teemu Selänne who put in his two euro cents in the ongoing debate. His blog entry is a typical I’m not a racist but…opinion piece. In the blog entry, he wants tougher sentences for rape crimes such as deporting the person back to the country that he fled.

In light of the police administration’s latest data about suspected rape cases by foreigners in Finland, Selänne’s blog entry, as well as that of many others you read today in print media and social media, is a good example of overkill.

Here’s an ice-hockey legend who uses his clout in Finland to fuel the country’s xenophobic atmosphere.

But let the situation ever-deteriorate so we can eventually join, like the PS wishes, Hungary and Poland in bashing and victimizing asylum seekers, migrants, and minorities for fun and political profit.

If someone asks how we got there we can state that it wasn’t because of the asylum seekers but because of our cowardice and wishful thinking about social ills like populism and racism.

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.

  1. PS voter

    Your numbers don’t add up. 25 persons out of 1000 cases is not 0.08 %, but 2.5 %. However, the likely number is even larger. There has been lot of criticism against the figures given by police elsewhere, that I don’t think it is necessary for me to repeat all of that.

    • Migrant Tales

      You’re right. It’s 25 divided by 32,000 asylum seeker and that gives you 0.08%.
      Apologies for the mixup.

  2. BlandaUpp

    I would like to know the nationalities of the other foreigners who were suspected in 217 rape cases. There is a tendency I’ve noticed by police of not being being honest about which nationalities commit rapes in Finland. A look at stat.fi tells you for instance that Estonians commit the greatest amount of rapes by foreigners yet there’s no outrage or public statements and discussions about that anywhere.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi BlandaUpp, if that’s the case it’s because Estonians are white.

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