The lead story in Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat has President Tarja Halonen’s reaction and concern about Saturday’s opinion poll published in Finland’s largest daily, which showed Finns’ attitudes and perceptions of racism.
One of the finds of the poll was that two thirds have seen racism in Finland even though a small amount considered themselves responsible for such behavior. Over a third polled saw Islam as a threat to Europe and democracy.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen expressed concern as well about the poll results. “What the heck do we Finns fear?” he was quoted as saying on Helsingin Sanomat..
One of the most disappointing matters about the poll results is Perussuomalaiset (PS) party chief Timo Soini’s decision to not take part in the debate. He wrote on his blog that the Helsingin Sanomat poll as well as two others published on the same day show how biased the Finnish media is against the PS.
One of these published Saturday by tabloid Iltalehti showed that the majority of Soini’s followers do not want Finland to scrap the euro nor leave the European Union.
Should we be concerned? Certainly and especially visible immigrants and minorities living in this country.
Racism does not only threaten immigrants and minorities in Finland, but undermines our whole society, even those that spread it.
Taking into account how racism has lifted its head with a vengeance in this country especially in the past two years, ignoring it would be a perilous mistake. Our lame response to this threat has led us to where we are today.
Our example, as President Halonen wisely points our, debating and condemning this social ill openly are the only way of challenging the threat.