What happened on Tuesday, when a white ethnic Finn dressed like a Muslim that vandalized a Lutheran church in Helsinki, is one of the strangest stories I have written but with a good ending. All of this happened when YLE was airing the A2 Islam debate on television.
Vicar Timo Pekka Kaskinen of the Rouhivuoren Congregation spoke to Migrant Tales about the affair. He said that all of the information he has about the attacker is on the Helsingin Muslimit Facebook wall, which states the following:
“The Helsinki Muslim Congregation is in no way linked to the vandalism that was perpetrated. In question was an individual who acted on his own and whose motive is still unclear. The person [who carried out this act] is sorry for what he did and understands his mistake.”
Kaskinen said that the Rouivuoren Church and the mosque, which is located right across road from it, has held talks in good faith about what happened.
The Rouhivuoren Church’s address is Tulisuontie 2 and the mosque’s, Tulisuontie 1.
“It’s a good matter that we have been able to speak about what hapened,” he said, adding that the incident has brought both congregations closer.
What happened on Tuesday night was unacceptable but most importantly showed that people of different faiths can come together and solve their differences without giving in to hate.
Another important lesson to be learned from the incident is the meaning of the term “white ethnic Finn,” or kantasuomalainen, which can presumably include a person who has converted to the Muslim faith.
One of the difficult matters about writing this story was that the suspect was pictured as a “white ethnic white Finn.” Nobody confirmed if he was a Muslim or not.
The Helsingin Muslimit Facebook page doesn’t confirm it either but suggests that the suspect may be a Muslim.
One final point is the fact that why didn’t wake up strong passions among some far-right ant-Muslim Finnish circles? Is it because the alleged perpetrator is white?
The story and the use of the term “white ethnic Finn” reveals as well how cultural diversity has grown in Finland especially in the past twenty years.