The most startling fact about a US state department report on human rights for 2012 weren’t the sentences for hate speech handed to Perussuomalaiset (PS) party members such as MP Jussi Halla-aho and Freddy Van Wonterghem, but the discrimination suffered by Finland’s Romany minority, which number about 10,000.
Read full US secretary of state human rights report here.
The report states: ”Groups of Roma have lived in the country for centuries, and Roma are classified as a ’traditional ethnic minority’ in the ombudsman’s report. The Romany minority was the most frequent target of racially motivated discrimination, followed by Russian-speakers, Somalis, and Sami. Ethnic Finns were also occasionally victims of racially motivated crimes for association with members of minority communities.”
If the Romany community is suffering the brunt of discrimination in Finland, why doesn’t anyone raise a fuss about it? Instead or debating a festering issue like intolerance in Finland, we prefer to engage in a fruitless debate on whether Finns are racist or not and/or how many refugees commit crime and abuse social welfare.
It’s quite clear that the whole debate over intolerance in Finland is badly lopsided and highly selective.
There are an estimated 50,000-60,000 Muslims living in Finland, which amount to about 1% of the population. Moreover, the biggest national groups made up by Muslims, like Somalis and Iraqis, number 8,767 (4.1% of all immigrants) and 7,882 (3.1%), respectively, according to The Finnish Immigration Service.
In light of the above, here’s the crux of the issue concerning immigration, immigrants and cultural diversity in Finland: Why do we ignore our historic failure with the Roma while paying so much attention to Africans and Muslims, which are a small minority?
In my opinion, it not only reveals the extent of the victimization and racism against specific groups in our society by certain political parties like the PS, the media and general public, but more importantly our intolerance to people who are different from us and what’s not supposed to be debated.
By portraying certain groups as threats to our way of life, we effectively put in cold storage the all-important debate on cultural diversity. The present debate on immigrants, immigration and cultural diversity resembles in many cases bringing up pedophilia as an issue when debating gay rights.
One of the biggest wise tales of Finnish ethnicity is that it is white. Such an affirmation couldn’t be further from the truth.
Apart from over 1.2 million Finns that emigrated from this country between 1860 and 1999 and mixed culturally and ethnically with other groups in their new homelands, we are seeing the same thing happening today in Finland as more immigrants move to our country.