Migrants and minorities fear that Turku will fuel more hostility and racism in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

After the deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona Thursday, some expected the worse in Finland when the following day a young man stabbed indiscriminately ten people who killed two, according to YLE News. The police confirmed on Saturday that what happened was a terrorist attack

According to YLE, the suspect is an eighteen-year-old Moroccan citizen.


 

Read the full story here.

At a press conference held Friday at 7 pm in Turku, Interior Minister Paula Risikko talked about “a foreign-looking” person as the prime suspect even if she could not yet confirm his identity.

Whenever Finland uses the term “foreign-looking” or “person of foreign origin” it is code for non-white European.

Minister Risikko should know by now that there are Finns of many ethnic, religious and cultural background. She should be aware, but public servants like her always forget.


Interior Minister Paula Risikko giving the thumbs up in February to a group of far-right Finland First demonstrators.

There are lots of stories about the horrific events that took place yesterday in Turku. No, Migrant Tales is not going to ask for a reaction from members of our culturally diverse community because they would condemn such an outlandish act.

After the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, my knee-jerk reaction was that the person wasn’t a foreigner. Many immigrants whom I spoke to back then felt the same way.

In 1986, Finland’s foreign population was minuscule numbering 17,269. Even so, some of the foreign community feared that Palme’s death could unleash racist reprisals in Finland.

Our culturally diverse community has grown manifold since then and numbers about 230,000 people.

Roxana, Beri, Hamid, and Hayder

Roxana Crisólogo Correa is a Peruvian poet who has lived some years in Finland. Her greatest fear is the far-right and Islamophobic groups using what happened to spread their agenda.

 “What scares me the most is that Turku will be a platform for Islamophobic groups [in Finland and elsewhere],” she said. “Moreover it will encourage us as a society to find simple solutions to complex problems and be reinforcing and dividing more our society by stressing ‘us’ and ‘them.'”

Beri Jamal, who moved to Finland as a child, said that what occurred in Turku could take place in Helsinki, where she lives.

“I’m afraid of being in public places where there are a lot of people,” she said. “I try to avoid such places.”

Hamid H. Alsammarraee has lived in Finland since 2008 with his family. He says that there are still a lot of pieces missing about what happened Friday.

“Was he a foreigner or not? Was he a Muslim or not? Was he from Iraq or not?” he said. “My greatest fear is that what happened in Turku will impact all foreigners living in Finland. It will fuel hatred and suspicion.”

Iraqi asylum seeker Hayder Al-Hatemi told Migrant Tales that in these types of cases there is a tendency to label everyone from a particular group as terrorists.

“The biggest fear is that if the person is from the Middle East, we will all be labeled as terrorists, which isn’t true,” he said.

Malicious official labeling 

One of the interesting matters to watch when such tragic news happens in Finland and elsewhere, rarely are members of our culturally diverse community contacted by the media.


Read the full story here.

But there are exceptions.

One story published by Radio Nova said that foreigners ran after the man who had stabbed eight people and caught up with him just when the police apprehended him.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote about Hasan Alazawiin’s heroism as he attempted to stop the knife-wheeling suspected terrorist. Alazawiin suffered wounds and is in a hospital.

Apart from the healing that will take place after this tragic event, it’ll be interesting to watch how far-right, anti.immigration and Islamophobic groups will use what happened in Turku to advance their agenda.

 

  1. jonne90

    “After the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986, my knee-jerk reaction was that the person wasn’t a foreigner. Many immigrants whom I spoke to back then felt the same way.”

    Knee-jerk reactions are ok to express as minorities I guess?

    “No, Migrant Tales is not going to ask for a reaction from members of our culturally diverse community”

    *proceeds to ask reactions from four members of our culturally diverse community*

    “rarely are members of our culturally diverse community contacted by the media”

    I thought we didn’t need their reaction? Anyway, you just posted two reactions by the media within the first day of the attack, and while I was posting this I saw a reaction on TV on YLE.

    A little consistency, please.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Jonne90, do you believe that there were a lot of minorities and members of our culturally diverse community that commented about what happened in Turku?

  2. jonne90

    Considering we’re barely past the first 24 hours since the attack took place, yes, I think the media has covered visible minorities’ views, as well as highlighted their heroism, in these articles and interviews for example:

    Video: Pauli Sitoi auttoi yhtä Turun puukotuksen uhreista: “Hain grilliltä paperia ja pidin kättä haavan päällä”
    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-9785951

    Turussa vakavasti loukkaantunut Hassan Zubier: “Näin miehen iskevän maassa makaavaa naista puukolla – hän kuoli käsivarsilleni”
    https://www.mtv.fi/uutiset/kotimaa/artikkeli/turussa-vakavasti-loukkaantunut-hassan-zubier-nain-miehen-iskevan-maassa-makaavaa-naista-puukolla-han-kuoli-kasivarsilleni/6542234

    Hussein al-Taeen ystävä meni estämään Turun puukkohyökkääjää ja sai itse puukosta monta kertaa – ”Ei voinut katsoa sivusta”
    http://www.hs.fi/kotimaa/art-2000005332057.html

    Bear in mind also that regardless of peoples’ ethnic background, there naturally isn’t much interest in digging up the opinions of people who weren’t there or weren’t directly affected by the attack. If you see a filler bit in the news of random white people’s feelings, most likely it is because such reaction segments are by definition people who happened to walk by, and it’s not meant to represent a cross section of Finnish society.

    • Migrant Tales

      I disagree. Migrants and minorities are always pushed aside and have little to say about things that will affect them directly.

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