On December 1, 1955 the late Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That historically important incident was for many the spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
In Finland something similar had happened today, when around 15,000 people demonstrated against racism and Perussuomalaiset (PS)* Olli Immonen’s Facebook post, which encourages Finns to fight against “the nightmare of multiculturalism.”
Well, that battle cry that Immonen made has got him and his party in hot water and didn’t produce the reaction he was hoping for.
Center Party Prime Minister Juha Sipilä condemned what Immonen said.
“I want to develop Finland as an open, linguistically and culturally international country,” he tweeted on Sunday afternoon, according to YLE. “I cannot accept Immonen’s remarks.”
National Coalition Party (NCP) MEP Henna Virkkunen Was quoted on YLE as saying that her party together with the Center Party want to be members of a government with a party that is openly racist and fascist.
Today’s anti-racism rally in Helsinki attracted 15,000 people, according to the organizers.
Reaction to Immonen’s comment has been noticed by the international media as well.
Writes the Financial Times: “An extremist diatribe by a Finnish politician (Immonen) has provoked national outrage and laid bare the perils of including a rightwing populist party in Finland’s governing coalition.”
If the PS were a serious party and against extremism, it would sack Immonen in the same way as it did in 2013 with former far right MP James Hirvisaari.
Will the PS sack Immonen? Will the anti-racism demonstration on Tuesday be the first of many sparks that will ignite national outrage and shame against racist politicians and their parties that remain indifferent to their hostility towards migrants and minorities?
Was Tuesday July 28 Finland’s Rosa Park moment?
It certainly looks like that!
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names 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.