Finnish white privilege #57: Finland’s “hostile environment” against migrants

by , under Enrique Tessieri

UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s policy nurtured a climate of suspicion called today the “hostile climate” in which people are deemed guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent.

Does Finland have a hostile climate against migrants like in the UK? One could answer in the affirmative after listening to a long list of politicians who don’t have anything better to do but to label migrants, especially Muslims, as “problematic” to Finnish society. 

It is no coincidence that three National Coalition Party politicians, President Sauli Niinistö, Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko, and Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen, perpetrate the hostile environment with their coded comments charged with suspicion and contempt.

When was the last time you heard them say something nice about migrants and how they contribute to the economic wellbeing of Finland?

Instead of saying something positive and inclusive, they create a climate of suspicion – like in the UK – of migrants, especially Muslims.

If we are fair, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä did surprise us in his New Year’s speech by stating that crimes committed by a few individuals should not stigmatize whole groups. Better late than never or too little too late?

Instead of talking about how bad migrants are, why didn’t President Niinistö mention a study published in November by the European Agency of Fundamental Rights (FRA) that concluded that Finland was the most hostile country to blacks ou of 12 EU countries surveyed? Why didn’t he tell us how we are going to combat racism in general and racism in particular against black people?

In his traditional New Year’s speech, Niinistö prefered to label migrants in a negative light by suggesting that they should take responsibility by “exerting control” over the actions of their members. Are such controls possible if migrants are a diverse group made up of different individuals?

What about the speaker of parliament, Risikko, who spoke about eight suspects in a sexual assault case who are Muslims and how laws on residence permits should be tightened as a result of these suspects?  Why does she only talk about crimes committed by migrants and doesn’t say a word about similar sexual crimes committed against minors by white Finns?


Watch the full interview with Speaker of Parliament Paula Risikko here.

Why didn’t she say anything about our Islamophobia problem and a study published in May by the Pew Research Centre that revealed almost two-thirds (62%) of those Finns surveyed believe that Islam is incompatible with the culture and values of Finland?

Why didn’t they talk about the findings of a study, “The Stopped – Ethnic Profiling in Finland,” which showed that ethnic profiling is widespread and systematic among he police, Finnish Border Guard, and security guards?

Why didn’t she apologize for giving the far right Finland First extremists the thumbs up?

The answer: Parliamentary elections in April and the National Coalition Party must show that they are tough on migration and Muslims.

White Finnish privilege #57

It is clear that there is in Finland a hostile environment against migrants and minorities. It is nurtured and spoon fed by politicians like President Niinistö and others. Such hostility and suspicion see non-white Finns as guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent. That hostility sometimes spills over into violence as well as in high unemployment and social exclusion.

The media is too often the messenger boy or girl of that hostility. They should know better but, like the politicians, are clueless because they also see a blind spot of their racism blurred by white privilege and power.

Malcolm X once said that racism is like a Cadillac because “they bring out a new model every year.” In Finland, racism is the same social disease that Malcolm X cited but it is a new model Škoda Octavia.

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