Migrant Tales got a phone call Thursday from an Iraqi woman* who spoke a few words of English. “Do you speak German?” she asked.
An Arabic-speaker called later the forty-year-old woman, who is one of the thousands of unlucky asylum seekers facing deportation after Finland decided to tighten its immigration policy.
The woman’s woes do not only hinge on deportation but to the fact that she is a single mother of two: her son is seven and her daughter, who suffers from mental problems and requires psychiatric help, is eight years old.
Considering the harsh lives that these asylum seekers have endured in their home countries, their misery doesn’t end in Europe but is exacerbated in some cases.
The woman, who claims to be suffering from cancer, is feeling desperate for her children and for herself.
Some pictures of when her children on the left are sleeping at the railway station, where they were picked up by the police and taken to a hospital. The Italian police collected money between themselves to buy refugees food, according to her. The single mother has lost contact with her husband.
If there is a silver lining in this family’s story, it’s that they won’t be deported back to Iraq but to Italy.
Contrary to 2014, when YLE aired Pekka ja Pätkä n-word (1960), the new showing of the movie Wednesday with blackface actors raised quite a storm on social media and was even reported by MTV, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, and HBL.
Apart from showing a racist movie that insults black people, showing it during a time when anti-immigration sentiment and xenophobia is another question that it raises.
Reaction to the movie was so strong on social media that the program manager of TV1, Pentti Väliahdet, released a statement below.
The statement doesn’t do any justice to some of the 31,000-strong African and Afrofinn community in Finland and doesn’t even offer an apology.
YLE appears defiant showing its white privilege and power.
Väliahdet justifies the airing of the movie by stating that one of YLE’s responsibilitiies is to air black-and-white Finnish movies from 1940-60. Older viewers watch these movies, according to him.
I read with surprise from Anna Pöysä’s Mafalala blog that YLE will air on Wednesday Pekka ja Pätkä nekereinä (1960), which is a racist movie with blackface actors. That was one big surprise but the biggest one of them all happened on September 6 when Pekka ja Pätkä acted in their most racist movie ever, Ketjukolari (1957).
Ketjukolari was taken down by YouTube apparently because of its racist content. Even if the movie is in Finnish, the stereotypical images of human-eating Africans, which look like characters taken straight from a 1950s racist Tarzan cartoon, leave no doubt about the movie’s content.
Amerindians in the movie are also pictured in a racist and demeaning manner.
Most Finns have learned that the use of the n-word neekeri is racist. Why, then, will YLE air tomorrow a racist movie that uses blackfaces and the n-word in its title?
Are these two movies and example of how YLE serves our ever-growing culturally diverse community?
In June, a parliamentary working group that looked at the future role of the broadcaster decided to do away with the term “multicultural” and replaced it with “cultural diversity.” The phrase that was eliminated was YLE “support[s] tolerance and multiculturalism.”
One matter that the member of that parliamentary working group didn’t appear to understand is that a good synonym for multiculturalism is cultural diversity.
Two of the most racist movies by Finnish comedians Pekka ja Pätkä are aired on YLE.
Migrant Tales understands that a young Iraqi asylum seeker was allegedly attacked from behind by two men and two women at about 2am on Sunday at the Kontula shopping center of Eastern Helsinki. The young man, who was found unconscious by the police, was taken to a hospital but released later.
“The asylum seeker was taken back to the hospital this [Monday] morning because we noticed that he couldn’t speak clearly, complained of pains in the head,” a source told Migrant Tales on condition of anonymity. “We called the ambulance and they took him to the hospital.”
Considering that it may take months for the police to investigate a hate crime, do they take what happened seriously considering that the asylum seeker may be deported to Iraq before his case comes up.
It appears that there is no evidence to support that a Muslim woman was allegedly attacked by 10 people at the Itäkeskus shopping center of Eastern Helsinki, according to Helsingin Sanomat. This is great news since the alleged victim is safe and sound.
Maryam Askar is a Somali activist who has appeared on television a number of times. She allegedly gave the racist sensationalist online publication an interview about what happened on Sunday.
Granting a racist publication like MV an interview is a definite trap and no-no. Or did she give MV an interview? The online publication makes up a lot of news.
Video material received by Migrant Tales shows one scene where the woman, using a niqab, not being allowed to enter the shopping center because of Suomi ensin (Finland first) supporters and even being shoved by one.
Apart from being shoved, one Suomi ensin protestor insults her by stating “what the f**k are you doing here.
The woman in the niqab is allowed to enter the shopping center after the police arrive.
This is pretty serious.
A Muslim woman who was four-months pregnant was attacked Sunday by around ten white Finn suspects at the Itäkeskus shopping center located in Eastern Helsinki, reports Helsingin Sanomat.
This story has been updated here.
At the time when the Muslim woman was attacked, a demonstration by far-right Suomi ensin (Finland First) was taking place outdoors at the same shopping center.
The victim, who had her veil and clothes torn when the police came, was able to identify one of the attackers, according to tabloid Iltalehti. Witnesses were able to identify the other ones.
Read the full story (in Finnish) here.
(UPDATE): Christian Thibault, an anti-racism activist, said that the police should be more effective in trying to defuse potential problems at the Itäkeskus shopping center.
“Some people who took part in the Suomi ensin demonstration are accusing the Muslim woman of provoking them,” he said. “That may be a question but isn’t the demonstration a provocation to the peaceful people who visit Itäkeskus?”
It would be disingenuous to claim that there is no connection with the alleged attack against the Muslim woman and the xenophobic climate in Finland that is fueled and maintained by groups like Suomi ensin and other far-right xenophobic groups.
Here’s a simple question: By law, a person is a Finn if he or she is a Finnish citizen. Why, then, are some of these Finnish citizens spoken of and near-constantly reminded by society that they are so-called “people with foreign backgrounds?”
What does it really mean to be labelled “a person with foreign background” in a country like Finland, where migrants and minorities are targets of fearmongering, xenophobia, and bigotry?
The only person who determines your identity is yourself. Picture by Enrique Tessieri.
In Sweden, a country that has many more migrants than Finland uses as well the label “person with foreign background.”
Philosopher Michael McEachran of Stockholm said that a person who is labelled “with foreign background” in Sweden is code used by officials to mean non-Europeans or non-white people.