By Enrique Tessieri
In many respects, the treatment of Somalis in Finland sadly reminds me of how blacks in the United States were excluded from society in the 1960s, when the civil rights movement was in full swing. Like in the United States, racism in Finland not only threatens our values as a society but questions who we are as a nation and people.
Probably one reason why some Finns still deny that racism is a problem in this country is because it would be a costly matter to admit. For one, it would suck out much of the questionable credibility of some political parties and their politicians, who have made their political careers on spreading fear and suspicion of immigrants and minorities.
Contrary to popular belief, parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which have capitalized politically by appealing to that anti-outside world and anti-immigrant streak in some Finns, are weakening not strengthening us as a country.
How can a nation that fought so nobly in the Winter War (1939-40) and created an exemplary social-welfare state that has today one of the best educational systems in the world have discrimination issues with a group like the Somalis? It is not only shameful but disgraces our society.
A story on Kainuun Sanomat claims that racist abuse and attacks on the Somali community in Finland started to rise after the April election, when the anti-immigration PS became the third-largest party in the Eduskunta (parliament).
Refugee of the year (2011), Saido Mohammed, said: “After the parliamentary election [Somalis that live in] Helsinki have said that they are spat at daily.”
Researcher Marja Tiilikainen reinforces Mohammed’s claim, stating that the election gave permission to people to harass Somalis in public.
The real enemies of this country are not immigrants but those who claim, with a poker face, that they aren’t racists.