One matter is what happened on Friday to singer Musta Barbaari’s mother and sister when they were stopped by plainclothes police Friday, the other is a bigotted comment by an anti-immigration politician and former police officer concerning the alleged ethnic profiling case. The MP, who is a member of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, Leena Meri, said that if the singer doesn’t like living in Finland he’s welcome to go back to where he came from.
What the MP didn’t grasp at first is that the singer is a native Finn from the city of Turku.
Meri, whose anti-immigration and human rights opinions are well-known, apologized Tuesday for what she said in Ilta-Sanomat, a tabloid that gained notoriety in the 1990s for labeling minorities like the Somalis in a racist manner. She wrote off what she said by claiming it was “a joke” and she didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
The PS MP’s apology is a good example of how low Finland’s politicians and the police service have stooped in recent years.
Meri worked as a police service officer before she was elected to parliament.
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
Her comment, that what she said was a joke, is a typical escape foot-in-mouth strategy by politicians who are multiculturally challenged.
It’s clear that with MPs like Meri and a long list of others of parties like the PS, we shouldn’t be surprised why hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise in Finland.
The police service in Finland is clearly a part of the problem.
A poll in March of members of the police service showed that 25.1% of the police that took part in a survey voted for the National Coalition Party (NCP) and 24.4% for PS. They considered asylum seekers as the most serious threat facing Finland.
I’m certain that our near-all-white police service is still in the dark about ethnic profiling. Their denials confirm the latter like what National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehmainen was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat.
“We have zero tolerance for racism,” he said. “Spot checks on foreigners cannot be based on a person’s ethnic background, religion, if he belongs to a sexual minority or for any other reason. Ethnic profiling is wrong and the police don’t engage in such activities.”
Meri’s and Kolehminen’s comments show how much out of touch the police is about discrimination and white Finnish privilege.
Migrants and minorities are hearing closely such comments. Some of us are saying to ourselves that we are the victims of hypocrisy in a country that claims to promote social equality and other noble Nordic values.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party 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 direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”