Perussuomalaiset Youth claim to have burned EU flag that onlookers never saw

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The youth league of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* claims they burned the EU flag on Saturday in the eastern Finnish city of Mikkeli but nobody in the crowd ever saw the flag. If PS Youth sources are to be believed, they shred the EU flag and  placed it in a metal cup that was later set alight at the event.

After the PS Youth called off their anti-Islam cartoon competition earlier this year,  their latest prank wasn’t well received by the party. PS  chairman Timo Soini said he was against burning the EU flag because it wasn’t a part of Finland’s political culture.

Other PS MPs like Mika Niikko and other party members expressed opposition to the event.

PS Youth chairman Sebastian Tynkkynen said that the burning of the EU flag was a symbolic act to promote Finland’s independence. He said in a long speech that Finland should leave the EU and European Monetary Union.

The PS youth members handed out Finnish markka coins at the event.

Christian Thibault, chairman of Rasmus, an anti-racism NGO, said that Soini was finding it ever-harder to lead the PS.

“It must be strange to be a party leader and to have to disapprove of the actions of your party’s representatives and vice versa force your party’s parliamentarians to vote [against same-sex marriage bill] according to your own religious convictions,” he said.

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Onlookers never saw the EU flag at the event. Members of the PS Youth assured onlookers that the EU flag was burnt.

 

Most of the onlookers were member of the PS.

There were about 50 people were at the event.

The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

The rise and fall of the Perussuomalaiset of Finland

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As support for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)[1] wanes with parliamentary elections only a heartbeat away on April 19, we are seeing a very different party  from four years ago. Back then, PS chairman Timo Soini was self-confident and campaigning confidently. He was the darling of the media, the new kid on the block, the underdog, the only credible anti-EU voice in the country romping opinion polls and sending political shock tremors. 

Matters have changed radically from 2011. We no longer see a self-confident Soini but a party that has run out of populist arguments and is scrambling unsuccessfully to repeat its historic election victory. Moreover, Soini doesn’t look even youthful as before but his image is a cause for worry since he has aged prematurely and there are health issues as well.

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Happy Flappy Soini is a popular game mocking the PS chairman. You can download the game (in Finnish) here.

 

The charismatic leader, who helped the PS rise from political obscurity to the third-biggest party in parliament in four years is now in retreat and on the defensive.

What happened?

An article in the New Statesman gives the following reason for the rise and fall of the PS:

In opposition, and rebranded as simply “the Finns”, the far-right revolution began to fade. The Finns soon found they outside of a coaliton, they were powerless. Meanwhile, they suffered a long string of very public controversies. In 2013, their MP James Hirvisaari was expelled for photographing of a friend posing in a Nazi salute outside [sic][2] Parliament, having previously been reprimanded for a series of Islamophobic and racist comments. Another high-ranking Finns Party MP, Jussi Halla-aho, has been investigated several times for inciting racial hatred.

Migrant Tales has always been critical of the PS and their motives. Their anti-immigration, homophobic and nativist nationalistic message is unsustainable politically.

PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen is one of many good examples of the party’s fall from political grace. Here’s an MP that has issues with alcohol and racism. Hakkarainen has even sent on his work phone pictures of his phallus, among other scandals.

It is incredible that in the age of the Internet, relatively cheap travel and globalization that some extremist groups are still hellbent on excluding others from being equal members of society. Behind all the rhetoric and political malarkey of the PS is its underlying message: Keep Finland white. 

Despite Soini’s repeated claims, that his party doesn’t even flirt with racism (sic!), the best example of how it uses a nativist nationalistic message in inciting nationalist fervor, which in turn fuels racism, was his decision to allow  MEP Jussi Halla-aho to draft the party’s program on immigration policy.

Soini claimed in 2009 that he’d sack any PS member if they got sentenced for inciting ethnic hatred. Halla-aho did but nothing happened to him. Soini instead defended his decision not to sack Halla-aho on BBC’s HARDTalk.

Another problem with the PS is that it has lost crediblity among voters because it is a volatile mixed bag of ideologies ranging from neo-Nazis and fascists to former communists. It hasn’t done anything in the opposition except whine.

Even if the PS will suffer a defeat in the April elections and even if there is a big possibility that it will eventually splinter and implode, the big question is what will emerge from the wreckage of the PS? Will we see in Finland openly far-right parties like the Sweden Democrats and Danish People’s Party?

That is one of the fears that the demise of the PS raises.

 

[1] The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

[2] Then PS MP James Hirvisaari, who was sentenced for ethnic agitation, took a picture of Seppo Lehto making a Nazi salute inside the parliament building.

European Network Against Racism: Muslims in Europe – Questions and Answers

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European Network Against Racism (ENAR)*

As anti-Muslim manifestations increase in Europe, particularly in the aftermath of the Paris and Copenhagen attacks, we clarify some misconceptions and answer some of the most frequent questions about Muslims in Europe.

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Visit original posting here.

 

Q: Who are Muslim Europeans?

Muslims have been present in Europe since the 7th century. Diplomacy and trade exchanges have always existed between the Muslim world and Europe. After World War II, a large immigrant labour force coming primarily from Mediterranean countries with majority Muslim populations were recruited to support rebuilding efforts in Europe. Nowadays, Muslim communities are as diverse as European countries are. Different ethnic and cultural origins, nationalities, political views, social classes mean that there is no such thing as one ‘Muslim community’. While in Europe, Islam is often associated with Arabs, the latter make up only 15% of the world’s Muslim population. Muslims refer to different understandings and lectures of the Islamic literature and to a great variety of theological, juridical and spiritual schools, obedience and traditions. Muslims are spread across the spectrum of potential religious practice: from total non-practice to intensive practice – the level of practice evolving also during a life time. Levels of practice differ also according to the religious practice: whereas estimates consider that only 10% of Muslims are engaging in regular prayers, more than 70% tend to respect fasting during the month of Ramadan.

Q: How many Muslims are there in Europe?

Most EU countries do not collect data disaggregated by religion in censuses, so it is impossible to know exactly how many Muslims live in Europe. However, research based on proxies has estimated that around 19 million Muslims live in Europe, which represents 6% of the total European population. Populist and far-right parties tend to increase this number to support the argument of an “islamisation of Europe”. Recent public opinion surveys have shown that the number of European Muslims is often overestimated. A 2014 survey found that French respondents thought that 31% of their compatriots were Muslim, while actual figures show that only 8% of French residents are Muslims – including non-practising Muslims. UK respondents thought there were 21% Muslims in Britain, when they constitute only 5 % of the British population.

Q: Are all Muslims violent, terrorist extremists?

While there is no single interpretation of Islam, renowned Islamic authorities across the world have repeatedly affirmed that terrorism cannot be justified by the teachings of their religion, which aims to promote justice and peace. Muslim leaders and scholars often speak out against terrorism and seek to counter misinterpreted or twisted teachings based on a theology of violence and death that fringe groups use to justify their violent actions. Most Muslims feel as threatened as anyone else by these violent extremists who say they act in the name of Islam. Muslims have been the target of terrorist attacks too, and are in no way protected because of their religion. To date, worldwide, Muslims suffer the highest death toll due to jihadist terror groups. Some of the victims of the Paris attacks were Muslims.

Q: If all Muslims are not terrorists, are all terrorists Muslims?

A survey conducted by the Center for Research and Globalization found that the terrorists acts perpetrated by Muslim extremists constitute only 2.5% of all terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1970 and 2012. In 2013, 152 terrorist attacks occurred in Europe with only one attack being religiously motivated while 84 were motivated by ethno-nationalist or separatist beliefs. The massive media coverage of Muslims extremists’ acts contributes to feeding the myth that all terrorist acts are perpetrated by Muslims. Far-right movements are also a form of extremism present in Europe, which poses a similar threat to society and peaceful coexistence.

Q: Do Muslims agree with the Paris and Copenhagen terror attacks?

Some Muslims have felt offended by some of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. But this in no way means that they support the deadly attacks. Most Muslim organisations publically condemned these murders, recalling that words should be countered with words, and that Islam shouldn’t be used as a way to justify terror attacks. Many of these organisations were present on 11th January to peacefully march in Paris and other French and European capitals. A number of European Muslim intellectuals have also insisted on the importance of freedom of expression.

Q: Are European Muslims increasingly anti-Semites?

Anti-Semitism is not new in Europe and is still very much present across European society. Muslims are not immune to anti-Semitism. Some Muslims are influenced by theological discourses rooted in anti-Semitism, far-right ideologues, negationists and those spreading confusion between Israel and Jews in general. However, a recent Pew Research Center study shows that negative opinions on Jews are growing in Europe, reaching 25 % of unfavourable opinion in Germany, where only 6 % of the population is Muslim. In Spain, where less than 3 % of the population is Muslim, close to 50 % of the population hold negative opinions about Jews. In France, research and surveys have showed that an ‘old’ type of far-right anti-Semitism is still dominant and goes hand in hand with other forms of prejudice, including Islamophobia. Affirmations that Muslims are the only source of anti-Semitism in Europe are based on an attempt to pit Jews and Muslims against each other, divide society and spread both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Q: What are the consequences of the Paris attacks on Muslim communities?

Muslims have been publicly called to condemn the attacks, implying that Muslims intrinsically support the perpetrators of the attacks. As a consequence, some Muslims have feared retaliation. The attacks took place in a context of growing Islamophobia in Europe (47% increase in recorded Islamophobic acts in France in 2013 compared to 2012), anti-Muslim marches organised by the far-right Pegida movement, and regular attacks of mosques in Sweden. From 7 January 2015 to 7 February 2015, there were 153 Islamophobic incidents against individuals and places of worship in France, which represents a 70% increase compared to January 2014.

Q: Are young Muslims in Europe becoming more radicalised?

Discrimination and social exclusion are key factors leading young Muslims, among others, to feel excluded and humiliated in Europe and become easy targets for radicalisation. It is necessary to address social segregation and discrimination in employment to include those who no longer believe in the structures that regulate our societies: families, education and employment.

Former and current armed conflicts in the Middle East and beyond have left abandoned populations in chaos in countries that are not able to guaranty a minimum level of security. These conflicts are used in narratives and easily spread by violent extremists to justify terrorist acts. This propaganda is widely spread via social media and mostly appealing to young people’s emotions. Worrying trends show an increase of the number of European young Muslims leaving to join jihadist organisations. However, estimates show that these represent less than 0.1% of the total Muslim youth.

Q: What is Islamophobia? How can it be a form of racism as Islam is not a race?

Islamophobia is a specific form of racism that refers to acts of violence and discrimination, as well as racist speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping and leading to exclusion and dehumanisation of Muslims, and all those perceived as such. Islamophobia can also be the result of structural discrimination. Islamophobia is a form of racism in the sense that it is the result of the social construction of a group as a race and to which specificities and stereotypes are attributed. These characteristics are considered genetic (for instance “Islam is violent, thus Muslims and their kids are violent”). Consequently, even those who choose not to practice Islam but who are perceived as Muslim are subjected to discrimination. Islamophobia has nothing to do with criticism of Islam. Islam, as a religion, as an ideology, is subject to criticism as any other religion or ideology.

Q: Is racial profiling the solution to prevent radicalism?

Data mining and surveillances practices have not yield conclusive results on combating terrorism or radicalisation. These data collection practices can lead to discriminatory practices and prohibited processing of data revealing race, ethnic origin or religion through the use of proxies. Information such as residency status, home address, nationality, place of birth, phone calls to certain countries, time of bank operations or physical appearance (a beard, a veil, etc.) can be used to racially profile individuals. Racial profiling is a form of racial discrimination that is prohibited under international law. It is also ineffective and counter-productive in that it alienates the very communities whose support is necessary for fighting crime and terrorism. Racial profiling is not effective in terms of law enforcement. Policing depends on cooperation from the public to report crime, provide suspect descriptions and give witness testimonies. Research shows that poor police-citizen contacts and bad treatment by law enforcement officers can have a negative impact on public confidence in law enforcement and also result in reduced cooperation with the latter.

*Migrant Tales is a member of the European Network Against Racism.

PS candidate shows video of “lazy” migrant but does not know how many of them live in Finland

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Jari Ronkainen is a candidate from the town of Hollola near Lahti in the April parliamentary elections. Should it surprise us that he his a member of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party? In a campaign video he divides migrants in two groups: those that integrate and those that don’t. Migrant Tales got in touch with the candidate by phone.

Are you serious about the video?

“Yes I am because the aim is to talk about a topic that [politicians and policy makers] try to avoid,” said Ronkainen.

Apart from being a distasteful video because it portrays migrant groups in a racist and stereotypical manner, the PS candidate doesn’t have a clue when asked how many unemployed migrants there are in Finland.

“I don’t know [the figure] but there are a lot of Somalis that are unemployed,” he added.

Even if the video suggests that the “lazy migrant” got his problem sorted out by sending him back to where he came from in the Middle East, the migrants portrayed have a stereotypical resemblance of Mexicans. The insulting video even uses the word “manana,” which is spelled mañana and means tomorrow in Spanish.

Migrant Tales asked Ronkainen why is he portraying a so-called Arab as a probable Mexican.

“The video is supposed to portray only migrants,” he said.

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Lazy person or lazy bum!! Watch the PS candidate’s video here.

 

So what does this say about a candidate who speaks out against “lazy migrants” but doesn’t have a clue how many migrants are unemployed never mind how he plans to hand out jobs to everyone in Finland?

“It doesn’t matter if migrant unemployment is today small or big in Finland, we have to make sure that these types of people don’t come to Finland,” he said. “I want to bring this to the attention [of the public] so it won’t be a problem in the future.”

It’s a mystery how Ronkainen plans to ensure us if elected how people at the border will be sorted as “hard-working” or “lazy” migrants.

Ronkainen said that those “lazy” migrants that live in Finland cannot be deported back to their home countries because they already live here.

Intolerance can surely distort a person’s world with the help of brute ignorance. In Ronkainen’s world, Mexicans can be from the Middle East with worms that can utter “manana,” or mañana, tomorrow in English. The medic, who is the PS candidate, gives medication to cure the “lazy” migrant. The medication can be taken as a suppository, or anally, according to the medic.

The more you watch this video the uglier its message becomes.

The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

Timo Soini and the PS: “What goes around comes around”

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Perussuomalaiset (PS)* chairman Timo Soini has good acting skills and a poor memory. At a press conference Thursday he told us about the death threats he’s received. I know how he feels because I too have received such death threats possibly from people inspired by the PS’ populist and hateful ideology. 

Even if I’ve lived in countries like Argentina and Colombia, I never got death threats. That happened to me for the first time in the early 1990s in Finland, when I was doing a big story for Apu magazine on the refugee center of Mikkeli.

There is a perfect quote that sits well with Soini and the PS in light of today’s press conference: “What goes around comes around,” which means that whether you do good or bad things to other people, the same will return to you.

For some white Finns the PS may be a good party but for some migrants and minorities in this country like Muslims it can be an extremely hateful and dangerous party.

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Read full Iltalehti (in Finnish) story here.

 

 

While all types of threats should be condemned, Soini forgets that he has with the PS created a monster of his own making that has come to haunt him with his death threats.

How many migrants and visible minorities face racism and hostility on a daily basis in this country because of Soini’s cronies like MEP Jussi Halla-aho and the likes are exercising their “free speech” to disenfranchise them?

Soini has with the PS polarized Finland and encouraged many of his followers to be proud bigots.

All the hate, bigotry and racism that parties like the PS are spreading goes and comes around.

 

The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

UPDATE (Feb. 19): Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism

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Migrant Tales’2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism will be updated separately. To see other examples of opinionated journalism in Finland about cultural diversity, please go to this link

Feb. 19

Soini: Perussuomalaiset ei “flirttaile” rasismin kanssa (Helsingin Sanomat)

What’s wrong with this news story? The Finnish media has asked over and over again Perussuomalaiset (PS)[1] chairman Timo Soini what he thinks about racism. The PS chairman always gives the same answer, claiming with a poker face that his party doesn’t even flirt with racism.[1] What’s wrong with this question and the story? Everyone in the story, the reporter and Soini, are white Finns asking about racism. Why doesn’t Helsingin Sanomat ask a minority living in Finland or a member of the Romany minority if they think the PS is a racist party? If they approached Migrant Tales with such a question our answer would be clear: The PS is a populist anti-immigration, homophobic and especially anti-Islam party that is against cultural diversity. Soini is the last person that will tell you that his party is racist. Therefore, the reporter should find more ingenious ways of showing how the PS has issues with racism.

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[1] The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. 

[2] Soini claimed in 2009 that he’d sack any PS member if they got sentenced for inciting ethnic hatred. PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho did but nothing happened to him. Soini defended his decision not to sack Halla-aho on BBC’s HARDTalk and on top of that gave him the job of drafting the PS’s party program on immigration. 

 

 

 

Declassified documents about Somalis shed light on how Soviet asylum seekers were treated in Finland

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This story published by MTV3about a secret agreement to return Somali asylum-seekers back to the then Soviet Union, forgets to bring up a very important question: Was there another secret document with Moscow to return Soviet citizens to the USSR if they sought asylum in Finland? 

The 1990 agreement, which was never enforced, became public knowledge after after it was declassified after 25 years.

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Read full story (in Finnish) here.

 

While it is important that such documents become public because they shed light on a shameful era, MTV3 should have dug deeper and asked why would the government want to breach those international refugee agreements it had signed in the first place? How was it possible for the then government of Prime Minister Harri Holkeri to consider such a move?

The answer is simple: It’s because they had done this for decades with Soviet refugees and they apparently didn’t like the idea that black people from Somalia were moving to Finland. The hostile reaction of the Finnish media and public to a few hundreds of Somalis seeking asylum at the time reinforces the latter.

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Tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat were responsible for spreading and reinforcing racism and intolerance. This billboard reads: Somalis will make Finland their home. The language used by the national media was racist and disrespectful. Source: Migration Institute archive.

 

Finland foreign population in 1990 was tiny, totaling only 21,174 or 0.4% of the population.

Thanks to Migrant Tales, it was possible to get in touch after over 20 years of searching with a former Soviet asylum seeker who was caught in Finland and returned back to the USSR. Aleksander Shatravka is one of twelve former Soviet citizens are on an Amnesty International list of people who were forcibly returned back to the Soviet Union.

UPDATE (Feb. 17): Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism

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Migrant Tales’2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism will be updated separately. To see other examples of opinionated journalism in Finland about cultural diversity, please go to this link

Feb. 17

Suomi pelkää terroristeja vähemmän kuin naapurimaat (Helsingin Sanomat)

What’s wrong with this news story? Today’s front page of Helsingin Sanomat’s online edition has a picture of three black young men with the following headline: Finland fears terrorists less than its neighboring countries. For those interested in semiotics, the study of meaning-making, the philosophical theory of signs and symbols, today’s front page of Finland’s leading daily is a case in point in how the media reinforces stereotypes and prejudices. Did Helsingin Sanomat alert those in the picture that their faces could be connected to terrorism and that the story reinforces suspicion that black people could be involved in terrorism? Is Helsingin Sanomat suggesting that the next terrorist act will be carried out by black and Muslims? Had they forgotten that the biggest terrorist act in the Nordic region was committed in 2011 by a white Norwegian anti-jihadist crusader called Anders Breivik? Why didn’t the paper put a picture of Breivik? A lot of questions and few answers from the national media.

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