Halonen cites the economy and racism as threats to Finland

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

President Tarja Halonen was quoted as saying on YLE that the government is facing two challenges after it returns from its summer holiday: the economy and racism. Her advice was calm, patience and not allowing hate speech to overtake our worst fears.

“If the economic situation remains difficult and even worsens, then we will need the kind of patience that is able to use democratic means to combat the kind of populist responses that cannot produce results — but which create anger and bitterness,” said Halonen.

If the president of Finland expresses concern about the rise of hate speech in this country, then matters must be pretty serious. More than ever before, immigrants, minorities and Finns must stand united against hate speech.

Social Democratic Party secretary Mikael Junger is one such politicians who has recently challenged Perussuomalaiset (PS) party MP like Jussi Halla-aho’s provocative statements about cultural diversity, the Nuremberg Trials, and Social Democrats.

Remembering how the announcement of Portugal’s default just a week before the April 17 election was an important boost for the PS, some supporters believe that as matters get worse in Europe financially the better the right-wing populist party’s standing in the polls.

It is no secret that during dire economic times, the first ones to get blamed are immigrants and minorities.

According to Halonen, the combination of poor economic times, loss of jobs and scapegoats feed populism and probably hate speech.

There is a good blog entry in English on the rise of hate speech in Finland on  On the Road of Succcess by Zuzeeko. 

  1. Rasmus

    Would that be the same Mikael Junger who when head of Yle tried to close down Radio Extrem and said he’d only speak Swedish if someone held a gun to his head? Yes. A true friend of diversity and tolerance.

  2. Yossie

    Things must be really serious yes.. Ofcourse you failed to mention about the latest statistics that told the hate crimes were all time low but hey.. things must be really bad if I think things are really bad.

    • Enrique

      Hi Yossie, I did read the story in HS on the decline of hate crimes and was thinking of posting it on Migrant Tales. The last two paragrphs of the story say it all: Lardot ei rohkene tehdä alkuvuoden perusteella johtopäätöstä, että rasistinen rikollisuus olisi vähenemässä. “Haluaisin tietysti uskoa niin, mutta en uskalla olla niin optimistinen. Pitkällä aikavälillä rasistinen rikollisuus on lisääntynyt, ja nyt tapahtunut lasku voi olla satunnaisvaihtelua.”

      Have you ever tried to report a hate crime in Finland? If you know someone who has been harassed, try doing it. You will learn a lot and find out why many of these types of crimes are not reported to the police.

  3. Klay_Immigrant

    Suprised you havn’t written about what has happened in London over the weekend. Is it because that is the reality of multiculturalism on a large scale?

    ‘Tottenham riot: a community blighted by drugs and gun crime’

    ‘But while many of those involved in the weekend’s unrest were not even been born when the previous riots took place, many of the social problems remain unchanged.’

    ‘The north London community forms the core of the London Borough of Haringey, one of the most deprived areas in Britain, blighted by gang culture, drugs and gun crime.’

    ‘Ethnically diverse in its social make-up, Tottenham contains one of the largest groups of Afro-Caribbean people. The borough as a whole is more than 50 per cent white, while Afro-Caribbeans account for around a quarter with Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and other Asian residents making up the rest of the population.’

    ‘While shaping its identity as a multicultural area, the rich tapestry of its inhabitants has also created friction, manifesting itself, not least, in the Broadwater Farm riot of 1985.’

    ‘Underpinning Tottenham’s crime statistics is a host of social and economic problems, despite millions of pounds being poured into tackling them.’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8687487/Tottenham-riot-a-community-blighted-by-drugs-and-gun-crime.html

    • Enrique

      Klay, for your information this is a blog that covers mostly Finland and occasionally writes about immigration issues in other countries. Looking at your thread, there is nothing constructive rather than the usual finger-pointing on how bad these people are.

      Why don’t you step up to the big leagues and tell us how to solve these types of problems? Can you step up on the plate and tell us what you really think.

  4. Yossie

    That might be true Enrique, but would that not apply to the statistics of previous year too? and years before? That would explain the drop if the reporting the crimes became harder this year but that has not been the case. Considering how you and a media have been crying out how the climate has became a lot more hostile, its rather interesting that there seems to be no evidence to back it up. Surely even with random deviation, should the numbers go down so much if hostility is up so much? Are you trying to demonize finns to be so racist and PS to be the reason of it?

    • Enrique

      Yossie, if you read well what has been published on Migrant Tales, I have never said there was a clear and empirical correlation between the rise of the PS and racism in Finland. But looking at some of the reactions on this blog and the bravado that the April election fuelled, one might conclude that there is a correlation.

      I personally feel that when you deny racism is a problem in this country your response goes much deeper. It basically means that you are denying of our diversity as a nation. If there is no diversity then here aren’t any problems. Hence, if there aren’t any problems “foreigners don’t exist” only symbolically on blogs. If they don’t exist they cannot demand anything from Finland and from me.

  5. Yossie

    Diversity itself isnt a problem. Its a problem when the diversity is telling us to change how we should behave. For example, a bit of old news from italy if I recall right. Some finnish woman had moved to there and made a big case out of the crosses in school rooms. If thats how it had been for ages and then someone foreigner comes to tell it is not ok then.. its a problem.

    Also if the diversity means, there needs to be tons of money poured on it or else there will be conflicts and ghettos, then its a problem.

    If they dont have any special demands then its no problem

    • Enrique

      –Diversity itself isnt a problem. Its a problem when the diversity is telling us to change how we should behave.

      Who is telling you how to behave? Or is your concern that cultural diversity places demands on all of us to make society a better-functioning place? I think it is a pipe dream to think — or aim to keep — things as they are if the immigration population grows. Even without them, culture places demands on us to change all the time.

      How is it possible that you allow people of your own groups to choose their lifestyles but are very strict about new groups doing the same? For you information Yossie, not all immigrants live in ghettos like not all Finns do either.

  6. Klay_Immigrant

    -‘Why don’t you step up to the big leagues and tell us how to solve these types of problems? Can you step up on the plate and tell us what you really think.’

    It’s simple but ofcourse many people would object because their hearts rule over their head with common sense and logic getting thrown out the window. It’s always easier and cheaper to prevent a problem as opposed to curing a problem.

    So in terms of immigration foreigners should not be allowed to stay and be granted residency if they are a burden and drain on the country. Now you may ask what does that mean. In other words if a foreigner wanted to settle in a new country without the need of social housing, welfare benefits and have a realistic chance of landing a job then they should be welcomed no matter where they are from, what religion they follow or what they look like. If they don’t satisfy that criteria then they shouldn’t be allowed to settle no matter who they are. Also there wouldn’t be any backclash from the native ethnic population accusing immigrants of living on tax payers’ money and being lazy.

    Ofcourse with Finland being in the EU this only applies to non-EU foreigners but then again especially in Finland when people talk about the problems of immigration and integration they are never referring to EU citizens for good reason.

    • Enrique

      –So in terms of immigration foreigners should not be allowed to stay and be granted residency if they are a burden and drain on the country.

      OK, so your answer is mass deportation of immigrants. Do you really think this is wise? And are you stating that the grand majority of immigrants are lazy and cannot adapt? How many are you speaking of? What percentage of the total immigration population?

    • Enrique

      Here is a link to Dunia Magazine that published a column by yours truly. Migrant Tales has got attention from some important news publications. In the spring I got a call from a journalist from “Deutschlandradio”, the National German Radio, it was mentioned on Time Magazine right after the April 17 election, and last week from the BBC. The refugeevoice Daily is another Twitter publication that picks up our blog entries as well as other ones like The Finns Daily.

      I am very pleased that what we write on Migrant Tales gets noticed in and out of Finland.

  7. Yossie

    “I think it is a pipe dream to think — or aim to keep — things as they are if the immigration population grows”

    Have you ever considered quite many people like Finland how it is? Dont you think maybe what you said there is a reason some people dont want that many immigrants here? Because it becomes impossible to hold on to the Finland they love.

    It is a one thing for culture to change over time compared to foreigners coming here and telling how we should behave. in practise what you said: “demands on all of us to make society a better-functioning place” If we dont do like they want, the society wont work. And still you wonder why people dont want immigrants here who dont want to adapt to our ways.

    If Finland doesnt preserve the finnish culture and language then no one else wont be doing that. The immigrants can go back to their home if they think our ways dont fit for them. For finns we only have Finland and we cant go back to anywhere. Thats why we should not come in middle for them. Its up for immigrants to adapt since they came here.

    For example, personally I have decided not to ever go in Dubai since I prefer not to get jailed for kissing. I do not expect people in dubai to change their laws for my preference. I just use my freedom of not going there since I dont think I will be able to follow their ways.

    • Enrique

      Yossie, whatever you say cultures change and more globalization and interaction through the Internet, airwaves, travel, immigration etc guarantees that. I don’t know what kind of a Finland you are speaking of. Is it the one you may have known in the 1970s?

      –The immigrants can go back to their home if they think our ways dont fit for them. For finns we only have Finland and we cant go back to anywhere.

      I think I understand what you may mean but you have to expand your view. The magic word is incorporation/inclusion not exclusion. People can embrace many cultures during their lifetimes like build new homes. It’s up to the person.

    • Enrique

      Before you jump to your own conclusions, read this entry by David Allen Green: http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2011/08/predicting-riot.html

      Here is more analysis by Ossi Mäntylahti.

      “Radicals and leftists find underlying socio-economic causes for certain riots, and mass vulgar prejudice for others. In turn, conservatives from Burke onwards tend to see any civil disturbance as being a failure of “law and order”.

      So what is your explanation?

  8. Yossie

    If the cultural changes through internet, travel and so on, it allows finns to decide what to adopt. When immigrants come here and start telling what they want finns to do then its not so.

    Many things about a person is formed during his childhood, it is not easy to start changing your views later in life… Sorry if I´m little doubtful on how easy it will be to embrace new cultures

    • Enrique

      –Many things about a person is formed during his childhood, it is not easy to start changing your views later in life…

      You forget that one of the greatest attributes of humans is their ability to adapt.

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