How long will Finland have the questionable luxury of being an island in Europe?

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Finland is suffering from a crisis that hinges on isolationism, nationalism, and fear of the outside world. In many respects, Finland is an island in Europe. Every time its geopolitical status is threatened, it sends jitters up the country’s spine like today. 

Finland is doing everything possible to keep matters as they’ve been. The fact that our political leaders believe that somehow we can retreat into a shell and let others EU countries carry the burden of the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers coming to Europe is wishful and isolationist, to say the least.

In an A-studio talk show Wednesday with Center Party MP Antti Kaikkonen, both the MP and the host, Susanne Päivärinta, talk about how the Russian border “leaked.”

Finland signed an agreement with Russia that only allows for a few months only Russian and Belarus citizens to cross the northern Finnish-Russian border.  The agreement will ensure that no asylum seekers will “leak” for the time being through the border as Kaikkonen and Päiväranta claim.

What Finland literally did with its agreement with Russia is temporarily outsource asylum seekers to that country in the same way that the EU did with Turkey. The language that politicians and journalists use to describe asylum seekers is shameful but those are the sour fruits of xenophobia.

Despite attempts to keep people fleeing war out of Finland and the EU, nobody knows how many of them will try to make the journey to Europe this year through other routes.

Another example of how Finland is trying its hardest to be an island is a new law that was passed by parliament Wednesday that puts an end to residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

Last year, Finland granted only 119 residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

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Read full story (in Finnish) here.

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Migrant Tales January 20, 2013 and case Terhi Kiemunki: The PS cannot rid itself of its racists because it would commit political hara-kiri

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Migrant Tales insight: Are you still wondering why Terhi Kiemunki got off with a light slap on the hand by the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party for writing on Facebook that it was unfortunate that she didn’t have any condoms to give Muslim children trick-or-treating? Even if Kiemunki is an Islamophobe that Anders Breivik emailed her before murdering 77 people on July 22, 2011, do we need any more proof why racism and bigotry have spread their poisonous roots in this country?

Imagine, you attack children of a different faith than yours on Facebook and all you get is a light slap on the hand and a lot of media attention. Even if Kiemunki was forced to resign as first vice president of the PS’ Pirkanmaa regional board, she was able to keep her job as PS MP Lea Mäkipää’s aide. On Saturday, the PS of Tampere gave her support as chairman.   

Still surprised? Don’t be. The PS cannot rid itself of its racist because that would be committing political hara-kiri. 

The party needs politicians like Kiemunki who say racist things and hate Muslims. Such despicable behavior attracts voters. 

Not only does the party need visible racists but the government needs them too. The PS’ government coalition partners, the Center Party and National Coalition Party, need the anti-immigration party too. Without PS support, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government could never push through the massive spending cuts that will impact low-income families, women, pensioners, students and other groups.

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Read full story (in Finnish) here.

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Keitä ovat kantasuomalaiset? Who are ethnic Finns?

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Tässä kysymys: Jos ihminen on virallisesti suomalainen kun hänellä on suomen kansallaisuus, miksi sitten puhutaan ulkomaalaistaustaisista ja maahanmuuttajataustaisista ihmisistä? 

Keitä ovat kantasuomalaiset ja ketkä kuuluvat siihen ryhmään? Voisiko Afrosuomalainen olla kantasuomalainen? Entä Romani?

Kuinka kauan tai montaako sukupolvea täytyy ihminen asuu Suomessa ennen kun hänet hyväksytään kantasuomalaisiksi?

Tarkoitaako kantasuomalainen valkoista Suomalaista?

Jos olet kantasuomalainen onko sinulla eriarvoinen sosioekonominen asema muihin vähemmistöihin Suomessa?

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Can Afro Finns be ethnic Finns as well? How do you define ethnic Finn? Photo: Enrique Tessieri.

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Here’s the question: If a person is officially a Finn when he is a Finnish citizen why do we still continue to label him a person with foreign background or with immigrant background?

Who are ethnic Finns and who can belong to that group? Can an Afro Finn be an ethnic Finn? What about a member of the Romany minority?

How long or how many generations must a person live in Finland to be considered an ethnic Finn?

Does ethnic Finn mean white Finn?

If you are an ethnic Finn does that mean you have certain socioeconomic privileges over other minorities in Finland?

Defining white Finnish privilege #28: Are you an ethnic Finn? (Part 2)

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In a recent Defining white Finnish privilege post, we asked about how the term ethnic Finn, or kantasuomalainen, is used. While there’s nothing wrong with being an ethnic or white Finn it is a problem if such a term is used to reinforce the exclusive privileges of a group.

When you label yourself ethnic Finn do you exclude migrants and minorities, or so-called people with foreign backgrounds, from being seen and treated as equal members of society?

If there is a problem with the term ethnic Finn, it is how it labels Others. Ethnic Finns can call themselves such a name but Others don’t have such privilege. Being labeled “a person with foreign background” or “immigrant,” even if you were born and raised in this country, indicates a wider more serious problem within our society.

A recent shadow report on Afrophobia by NGO European Network Against Racism (ENAR) cited, at least, four European countries that use a particular classification to label their “foreign” population. The countries mentioned in the shadow report are Finland, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands.

It states how such terms are used in Holland (page 17):

The Dutch government makes an official distinction between “autochtonen”, meaning that both parents are born in the Netherlands and “allochtonen” defined as people who have at least one parent born outside of the Netherlands. Furthermore, a distinction is made between “western allochtonen” (European countries excluding Turkey, North America, Oceania, Indonesia and Japan) and “non-western allochtonen” (includes people with at least one parent born in Africa, Latin America, and Asia excluding Indonesia, Japan and Turkey).

If such labels are so important that the government makes an official distinction, why aren’t players on the Dutch national football team classified  as “autochtonen” and “allochtonen?”

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Listen whole program (in Finnish) here. The talk show gives us a good idea of how white Finnish privilege is the standard narrative when speaking of minorities.

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Populism and nationalism in Finland have made us fear our own shadows

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The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, which bases its popularity on anti-immigration rhetoric, empty nationalism, and promises, appears eager and “overjoyed that parliament will “finally” take long-overdue steps to tighten immigration law and undermine the human rights of asylum seekers.

Some of the changes that the new law will make possible if passed are shortened asylum appeals and do away with immigration on humanitarian grounds. Last year, there were only 119 people who got a residence permit in Finland on humanitarian grounds. Even so, the grand xenophobic party believes this to be important to make our country unattractive to asylum seekers.

It doesn’t take much gray matter to understand that the PS is lashing out against asylum seekers and migrants in an attempt to fix its atrocious poll standings, which plummeted in the fall.

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The story of the migrant with the fake Rolex who charges real prices for finding an apartment

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Moustafa M.

An immigrant is wearing shiny shoes, a golden chain and a fake Rolex watch carrying a keychain and a wallet in one hand and a pack of cigarettes and mobile phone in the other. He’s one of the many migrants who’ve become middlemen in the real estate business.

There’s nothing wrong with this on the surface, and everything appears legal except that some are taking advantage of desperate migrants who don’t still read Finnish never mind Helsingin Sanomat, where they can search for the same apartments for the price of a newspaper.

The desperation that some migrants suffer is entirely understandable. Lots of them who got their residence permits want to build a home after their long journey through Europe to Finland and after living for months at reception centers where they’ve suffered humiliating treatment in the worst of cases.

No matter who you are or where you are from, the standard going price to find an apartment is 500 euros up front. The middleman will then offer you three apartments, and you’d better have a good reason for not accepting to live in the flat.

Here’s an example of how the scam works: The migrant who paid 500 euros in advance pays another 500 euros onfind the apartment. Add to that a two-month deposit of say 2,000 euros plus 1,000 euros for the first month of rent and the total cost adds up to 4,000 euros!

Any problem? None at all because the municipality foots the bill!

Thanks to greedy landlords as well, these middlemen will spice the deal by asking them to raise the rent by 20%.

Case Downtown Helsinki: How the police ethnically profile people

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During the weekend, the police service together with the Finnish Border Guard wilfully targetted foreigners for spot identity checks in Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa. Migrant Tales heard of a case in Kamppi where four young men were walking. The police allegedly stopped two young Finns, one who was black- and brown-skinned. 

The police did not stop their two friends, who were white Finns.

Both the black and brown-skinned young men showed their passports and told the police they are Finns. One at the officers turned his attention to the brown-skinned man and suggested that the passport didn’t make him a Finn.

 

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Read full story here.

“What’s your mother tongue?” the police asked.

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