By Enrique Tessieri
The region of Pohjois-Karjala in eastern Finland has gained a dubious reputation for being one of Finland’s hotspots of racism. A poll published by Joensuu-based Karjalainen shows that while people from this region are not against labor immigrants but they don’t want refugees moving there.
If I interpreted one of the findings of the poll correctly, everything is supposedly fine in Pohjois-Karjala for immigrants as long as they go to work there and pay taxes, right?
If anything, the poll reveals how deep in denial some inhabitants of the region are concerning racism and how it has flourished. Remember the businessmen who did not want people with “pigment problems” to apply? What about those establishments owned by self-employed immigrants that have been attacked in cities like Joensuu? Ever heard of Lieksa?
The poll even suggests blame on immigrants: There was no racism in our town before foreigners came here.
Even if some inhabitants of the region may not want refugees, I wonder if any person would want to move to a city like Lieksa?
Despite the big challenges that Pohjois-Karjala faces, Karjalainen and associations like JoMoni led by Alain Miguet have done a lot of good work on the anti-racism front.
Their jobs are not made easier by parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which have not made a clear break with racism. Instead, some of their MPs even openly promote it. The PS are now the biggest party in Pohjois-Karjala, according to a poll published on Turn Sanomat.
The more racism lifts its head in Finland, doublespeak explanations claiming that we don’t have a problem with such a social ill will become more prominent.
We will claim that we like certain immigrants but loathe others.