By Roble Bashir and Enrique Tessieri
For the elderly Somali woman, who speaks to us with the help of an interpreter, racism is a terrible issue like the suffering that the long civil war has brought on her people and country.
The fact that most Somalis have endured and seen unimaginable suffering in their former home country as well as endured the dark side of racism in Finland, has made some of them exceptionally strong and resilient.
Apart from her son being attacked by Finns when she lived in Joensuu, her son was assaulted in Helsinki as well. She says that a complete stranger once kicked her in the shin when she was going up the escalator.
Musse admits that some Finns can be exceptionally mean. Once they tipped off the security guards that she was shoplifting at an Itäkeskus S-Market.
”I was stopped by security guards after I paid for my goods,” she says. ”The security guards took back the items to the cashier to see if they were stolen. They apologized after they found out that everything was in order.”
Musse says she felt so humiliated and angry that she threw all the goods in the plastic bags at the security guards.
”You can imagine what a scene I created: a Somali woman suspected of shoplifting in public,” she says. ”I have never stolen anything but I have seen Finns shoplifting. I still feel very bad about what happened to me.”
Musse says that Somalis in Finland don’t trust the police.
”I don’t think the police do their job well in this country,” she says. ”I know Somalis who have been physically attacked and the police has not resolved their cases even after five or six years.”
She claims that the police drag their feet when a Somali is a victim of a crime. Musse does not believe that anything will happen to those that attacked her in April.
”They simply don’t care,” she adds. ”They don’t care because you’re a Somali and because there are racist police in this country.”
Musse believes that since the authorities cannot directly kick the Somalis out of Finland, they use other methods to tell you that you’re not welcome. Everything you do takes a lot of time for a Somali in this country: finding work, getting citizenship, family reunification, and asylum, according to her.
The Somali woman applied in 2010 for a new flat from the city. She has to walk up three flights of stairs to get to her home. The doctor has told her that she should not walk up the stairs and carry heavy objects.
”Everything is far away from my flat,” she continues. ”I have to walk to the other side of the apartment complex to dry clothes. Walking to the bus stop takes fifteen minutes. I am afraid to walk through the forest alone to get to the bus stop.”
Musse says that she gets her strength from Allah.
”Only he knows where I will live and when I will die,” she concludes.