All criticism that surrounds immigration policy in this country is easily labelled as hate speech and racism.
I don’t usually begin an opinion piece with a quote by an Islamophobe like Hirvisaari that was sentenced for ethnic agitation. This will be an exception because I’d like to answer the claim that the former Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP made in parliament on November 11, 2014: Islamophobes like you usually dress up hate speech and racism with so-called criticism of immigration policy.
We all know that “criticism of immigration policy” is code for the worst kind of bigotry and hate speech in our society.
The other misconception used by Islamophobes is that their free speech is being undermined since they aren’t allowed to spread freely their hate speech and racism, which they are doing right under our noses constantly.
The fact that Islamophobes criticize some sectors of society that openly challenge and condemn their hate speech and racism is a positive matter. We got a shocking taste of anti-Semitism in the 1930s to understand what can happen when we allow a social ill like racism to spread freely like wildfire.
In the same way that anti-Semitism was allowed to plant its poisonous seeds in society over eighty years ago we get a frightening glimpse of how Islamophobia and xenophobia fuel the worst in us. The media, politicians and society in general are all culprits.
The latest example of this vengeful hatred was seen this week when two suspected asylum seekers, who are minors aged 15 and 17, were lynched by social media and politicians like Prime Minister Juha Sipilä for raping a 14-year-old minor in Kempele.
In one shot the hatred and racism of our society towards Others was shamefully exposed once again.
What did we forget when we pointed the accusing mob finger at these asylum seekers? We forget one of the most important human rights of our country:
We are innocent till proven guilty by an independent and impartial tribunal.
If there is anything positive that came out of this tragic case it is the role of women in our society. We boast about social equality between the sexes but conveniently forget that Finland has, according to some studies, the highest sexual harassment and violence rates against women in Europe, according to Pia Puu Oksanen of Amnesty International.
This issue, sexual harassment, violence and rape, is easily sidelined when we claim that only a certain group of people rape since it is “part of their culture.” Any sensible person, irrespective of his or her culture and national background, doesn’t encourage never mind approve of rape.
That’s why it is a good matter that some voices in our society are exposing the double standards and hypocrisy of our rage. What the mob is saying is that rape committed by a Muslim should be strongly condemned but it’s near-ok if done by a white Finn.
Rape is not a crime that is characteristic of one group but a sickness that inflicts men. It acts and feeds on the same vices as racism: power and domination. Rape will continue to be an illness in our society for as long as we give racism the blind eye.
Instead of permitting us to hide a social problem like rape, we should condemn all acts of rape irrespective of the person’s ethnic background.
Rape is a crime, period.
* 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.