Study finds ethnic profiling is a widespread problem in Finland among the police, Finnish Border Guards and security guards

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The Stopped research and journalism project, Finland’s first-ever comprehensive study on ethnic profiling, published its finding Tuesday. While there have been scores of stories published about ethnic profiling on publications like Migrant Tales, there is nothing surprising by the study’s findings. 

If there is something that surprised us it was that ethnic profiling, despite continuous denials by the police, is so widespread that it is a serious problem.

One reason why ethnic profiling is so widespread in Finland is because it is condoned and encouraged politically by politicians, even ministers.

The big question is what will the police, Finnish Border Guards and security guards do to tackle ethnic profiling? Taking into account the anti-immigration atmosphere in Finland, it is clear that such measures will take time and happen slowly.

You can read the full study here.


Here are some headlines of the study:

MTV: Ethnic profiling is so common that some minorities are used to it – security guards are rude but the police are more polite

Helsingin Sanomat: Helsinki police: A lot of work has been done to do away with ethnic profiling – according to a new study (police) stops are common.

YLE NEWS: Study: Ethnic profiling in Finland continues despite legal prohibition. 

YLE: I considered it odd that they stop me a black person at every metro station – ethnic profiling affects people’s daily lives 

Helsinki University: Ethnic profiling is a problem in Finland, according to a research and journalism project 

Iltalehti: Study on ethnic profiling by the police: You are invited to search for “non-Finnish looking” people – language skills are asked later.

Ilta-Sanomat: A Nigerian woman standing in the street was asked “what are you doing here” (by the police) – this is what ethnic profiling looks like in Finland. 


Here are some of the conclusions of the study on ethnic profiling:

  • “The Finnish Alien’s Act (where ethnic profiling is clearly stated that it is illegal) does not give a sufficient criterion for reasonable suspicion, and thus the police are not required to specify the grounds for their checks. The subsequent wide discretionary power leads police to use their intuition or ‘gut feeling,’ discussed as tacit knowledge in the research, to identify targets of control.”

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Facebook Ahmed IJ: Words of exclusion

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Migrant Tales insight: If finding a job isn’t easy for a foreigner in Finland, it is especially hard for an asylum seeker. Doors close and some are left ajar. Even so, you are not supposed to pass inside if you are an asylum seeker. 

I’m sorry for your frustration, Ahmed. Together and with many others will storm inside those doors so that they will be doors of inclusion and not of exclusion.


 

A poll that that tells us that Finland will continue to be Islamophobic and weary of cultural diversity

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An opinion poll and two results: how do young and older people vote and what does it say about the political future of Muslims and cultural diversity in Finland? For one, it suggests that matters will get worse before they improve. 

YLE published Sunday a poll that shows two different political paths for Finland: Among the older voters (50-79 years), the Social Democrats are the most popular party while the younger group (18-34 years) gives a different picture.

The popularity of the National Coalition Party is pretty stable among both age groups. The Centre Party’s popularity among younger voters takes a hit, but it is not as dramatic as with the Social Democratic Party.

The Greens, which are the most popular party among young voters, reveals that parties like the National Coalition Party, Centre Party and never mind the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* will continue with their subtle and harsh Islamophobic and anti-immigration rhetoric by treating migrants and minorities like second- and third-class members of society.

In Finland, you hear a lot about how young people in Finland are more open to difference. If you look at the young voters (18-34 years), parties (National Coalition Party, Centre Party, PS, and to some respects the Social Democratic Party) that have dragged their feet on recognizing that we are today a culturally diverse society, total 58%.

How many parties are open to difference and cultural diversity? They are the Greens, Left Alliance, and Swedish People’s Party. All three parties in the young-voter group total 36.6% compared with 18.9% in the older group.


The first table shows how 18-34-year-olds would vote. The second one, on the right, shows the 50-79-year-old-age group. Source: YLE.

One of the most surprising findings of the poll is the popularity of the anti-immigration PS among young voters, which indicates that there will always be an appeal among some voters for racist and bigoted politicians and parties.

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THE LONG INTERVIEW: Rebecka Holm, the adolescent who spoke out against racism, yesterday and today

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Rebecka Holm is the brave adolescent from Helsinki, who in 2012 spoke out against the racist harassment she regularly experienced on the way to school. She got fed up with the situation and wrote a letter to the Swedish daily, HBL, denouncing what she and her friends experienced too often.

“If Finland is now the most secure and stable country [in the world],” she said back then, “why do people of [different] ethnic backgrounds get attacked every day?”

For a while, the young adolescent was in the national spotlight. Apart from media attention, Holm was given an award by the Red Cross on the UN Day Against Racism.

Six years have elapsed since then and the brave young lady today lives and studies law in Uppsala, Sweden. I had to the opportunity to talk to her by phone and ask her about her plans and what she thought about what she did in 2012.


Read original story published in 2012 here.

Migrant Tales (MT): Tell me about your life in Sweden. How does it feel to live in that country?

Rebecka Holm (RH): I live in Uppsala which is a “white” city, and it’s not as diverse like Stockholm. But it is still much more diverse than if I would study in Turku and Finland. I must say that I blend in much better here even if most of the students that major in law are white upper-class students.

MT: What do you mean? 

RH: Racism is more subtle in Sweden. In Finland, you can sometimes get a lot of stares from people That does not happen here. I am an outsider in Sweden but in the same sense as in Finland even if I am a Finn and not accepted as one. In Sweden, I get fewer questions like “where are you from.” It is rude to start a conversation with a person in this country in such a way.

 In a way, people can say what they want in Finland but in Sweden that would not happen. If you say something racist, it would be political suicide. You would get kicked out of the party. That is not the case in Finland.

MT: What motivated you to speak out against racism in 2012? 

RH: When I was young, I was very sure about myself, and I was pretty sure that what I did was right. The letter I wrote to HBL took 30 minutes. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I just wrote it and sent it to the newspaper. The following morning my aunt text messaged me and wrote that they published a letter written by me.  I never thought what I wrote would attract so much attention.

Rebecka Holm graduated from high school in spring 2016.

MT: How has your perception of a social ill like racism changed from then? 

RH: My perception of racism today is different from when I wrote the letter. I don’t see it as many different incidents of overt racism but as a structural problem [in society]. (more…)

Finland must stop locking up asylum seekers and their children

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The picture of one of the seven minors detained at the Joutseno immigration removal center in April 2017 should shock us all. That picture, the asylum policies of the Finnish Immigration Service, and the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä are destroying the very values of our Nordic welfare state. 

The picture below of the young adolescent by the metal bars of the window and barbwire, the overcast day and her hopeless gaze reveal our silence and complicity.

When we see and hear the rants and arguments of Islamophobic politicians and their followers, the most complicit are those who remain silent and “follow orders.”

How can we claim to be a fair society that promotes social equality if our behavior towards others is totally the opposite or in a Mr. Hyde mode?

The family of nine was granted a one-year residence permit. In an interview published Saturday in YLE, the parents of the children state that their children are traumatized by what happened at the immigration detention center. The children never sleep alone but together, according to the parents.


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Instead of just being against racism why not take on the real culprit: structural racism in the Finnish police

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Thank you for the video but where is the black police officer, the Muslim police wearing hijab like in the UK? Does the Finnish police service reflect the cultural and ethnic mix of the communities they serve? The Finnish police service is big on gender equality but lags far behind in cultural diversity. 

The video below is a step in the right direction but in all truthfulness, it is only a band-aid for a serious problem in the police service and Finnish society.

The police have done little to nothing to ensure non-white Finns and visible migrants that they have changed their ways. There is no mea culpa about how to challenge structural racism as happened in the UK with the Macpherson report.

One of the main recommendations of that report was that it will encompass “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.” The overwhelmingly white Finnish police won’t make that call.

A terrible example of the need of the latter is the brutal stabbing and attack of a Pakistani migrant in Vantaa on February 23. The police maintain that it wasn’t a hate crime while the victim disagrees. Without any tests, the police can decide if the attackers are racists or not.

In Finland, the victim of a hate crime has to prove that he was a victim of such a crime. This is wrong, and we should take on board recommendations in the Macpherson report that challenge structural racism in the police service.

Below are a few cases that have been a blow to confidence in the Finnish police when it comes to ethnic relations:

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After the Perussuomalaiset-Blue Reform, the National Coalition Party is the most anti-immigration party in the Finnish parliament

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If you ask anyone in Finland which party thrives on anti-immigration sentiment and bigotry, the answer is simple: Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and Blue Reform. The difference between these two is that the former is a racist party that came out of the closet and the latter one which went back to the closet. Here’s the question: Which party is the second-most anti-immigration party in Finland?

Without a doubt that party would be the National Coalition Party (NCP).


The National Coalition Party, or Kokoomus in Finnish, is the second-most anti-immigration party in Finland after the Perussuomalaiset-Blue Reform parties.

There is a long list of politicians in that party that keenly supports structural racism. Their policies and ideology is based on racism but with a deceitful cordial smile.

Disagree? Why not look at some of their politicians like Wille Rydman, Susana Koski, Atte Kaleva, Pia Kauma, Elina Lepomäki, Petteri Orpo, Paula Risikko and many, many others.

These above-mentioned politicians openly support structural racism and don’t want anything to change the situation.

Minister Orpo, who is also the chairperson of the NCP, was and is instrumental for having tightened Finland’s immigration policy and undermined the human rights of asylum seekers. One of his many infamous anti-immigration statements was that he equated asylum seekers from Russia as waer from “a leaking roof.”

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Racism and social umbrellas

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“Racism is like rain. You cannot stop rain but you can protect yourself from it. We need social umbrellas to protect ourselves from racism. This would come in the form of awareness, social policy, and leadership.”

Le racisme existera toujours. Le racisme est comme la pluie. Vous ne pouvez pas arrêter la pluie, mais vous pouvez vous en protéger. Nous avons besoin de parapluies sociaux pour nous protéger du racisme. Cela viendrait sous la forme de sensibilisation, de politique sociale et de leadership. 

Ghyslain Vedeux*

Source: Facebook.
* Ghyslain Vedeux is an anti-racism activist working for Le Cran, France’s biggest black association in France. Vedeux was a professional football player (1998-2006) and played for teams such as Tottenham. He holds a postgraduate degree in psychology and works as a consultant for individuals and companies.   

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