A handful of well-organized Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers demonstrating against deportations at the Helsinki Railway Square since February scored a victory over a splintered far-right anti-immigration counter-demonstration that turned out a flop. They were all there: the Perussuomalaiset* (PS), Suomen Sisu, Suomi Ensi, Rajat kiinni!, Suomen vastarintaliike and who knows what.
Juha Mäenpää is a councilperson from Ilmajoki and a deputy MP of the PS who was at the counter-demonstration. He said in December 2015 that “god had answered his prayers” when an asylum reception center was razed to the ground.
Juha Mäenpää’s campaign ad when he ran for MP. Source: www.persujuha.fi
Some state that Mäenpää was one of the organizers of the counter-demonstration against the Afghan and Iraqi demonstration but he denied such claims.
“I don’t know who organized the event,” he told Migrant Tales by phone. “There were a number of demonstrations going on at the same time.”
On Facebook and about two weeks before the event, the counter-demonstration was announced as a “purge” against “illegal migrants who should leave Finland.”
“Do you think that the organizers would advertise that they’d ‘purge’ by force [such people] and advertise it on Facebook? the councilperson said denying that there were any plans of using violence. “[If they’d use violence] they’d keep their plans a secret.”
Mäenpää, who doesn’t appear to get along with Suomi Ensin leader Marco de Wit, said that in his opinion both demonstrations (Suomi Ensin and the asylum seekers) should be forced to leave the Helsinki Railway Square.
“It’s naive not to think that these people [asylum seekers] aren’t dangerous,” he continued. “We don’t know who they are. They could be criminals or Isis terrorists and therefore we need to lock them up like [asylum seekers] in Hungary and Estonia until we can figure out who they are.”
Hungary’s parliament has voted to put all asylum seekers in detention camps and to live in containers, according to the Guardian. Estonia has taken similar steps to lock up asylum seekers, according to Mäenpää.
He said that Muslim asylum seekers could never adapt to life in Finland.
“My father was working in Iraq in 1979 and 1980,” he said. “Back then, women wore pants and t-shirts. Now, because of radical Islam, the country has gone back 500 years.”
He said that he had visited a refugee camp in Lebanon.
“The people I met there are so different than those in Finland,” he added.
The councilman said that despite the fact that counter-demonstration was an utter failure on Saturday, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of anti-immigration sentiment “smoldering” in Finland.
Ana M. Gutiérrez Sorainen, who attended the counter-demonstration wrote on Facebook that the anti-immigration protestors were a pitiful lot.
“When it is a little past three [o’clock], the police escort the Purge demonstrators from the Helsinki Railway Square,” she wrote. “They number about 30. Some speak in Finnish, others in Estonian. Some are dressed with Soldiers of Odin hoodies. Some are drunk.”
Sakari Timonen’s blog published a snapshot below of PS Järvenpää councilperson that says it all:
Why can’t patriots cooperate jointly? Today, again, we got evidence of the latter. Those peace lovers [suvakki] are capable of singing together kumbaja without arguing but we patriots don’t even fit in the same square [according to some]. Are power and pride so important that we’ve forgotten what we’re fighting against?..Why do we make everything so difficult? Why can’t we cooperate together? Certainly we don’t have to stand everyone but that is only a minor factor. As long as our “group” is incapable of cooperating we have lost the “war” and peace lovers only laugh at us.
If Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers have revealed a lot of unfortunate and good things about Finland, their ongoing demonstration at the Helsinki Railway Station exposed the huge lie of the far-right anti-immigration camp.
For one, they have reassured us with their example that together we can accomplish a lot.
The first big setback to these forces will be the PS, which is predicted to suffer a stinging defeat in the municipal elections of April 9.
See also, Finland: Pro-refugee demonstration dwarfs nationalist counter-protest in Helsinki. Thank you Reija Härkönen for the heads-up.
* The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and thereafter the acronym PS.