Should Finland adopt a citizenship test?

by , under Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

What would an anti-immigration hardliner like MP Olli Immonen of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party seek when he believes that Finland should adopt a citizenship test like in countries like the United Kingdom? Immonen offered a written question Thursday on the matter to the speaker of the house.

Before we get to the bottom of what is behind Immonen’s written question, please visit his website and check out who he is. Behind him stands a smiling PS head Timo Soini.

One matter that becomes clear from his official website is that Immonen does not like Muslims: “Just say no to Islamization” together with links to Hommaforum and Scripta, both are multiculturally challenged websites that regurgitate urban legends about immigrants.

Moreover, you’ll find a link as well to the Nuiva manifesto, a far-right assimilation model for immigrants, never mind a “I support free speech” icon.

Migrant Tales defines multiculturalism to mean cultural diversity and the right of people to practice and be proud of their cultural backgrounds.

I personally believe that if we live in a culturally diverse society, mutual acceptance and respect are crucial. A culturally diverse society should work like any society with the difference that it is made up of different cultural groups that accept, respect and treat each other as equals.

Britain is officially a multicultural country, which promotes two-way integration not one-way, or assimilation. The other two officially multicultural countries in the world are Canada and Australia.

Taking into account Immonen’s extremists views on immigration and especially on Muslims, does he want Finland’s citizenship test, if ever adopted, to measure assimilation?

If that is the case, which I believe it is, his proposal should be flatly rejected as a sham.

  1. Mark

    So, Immonen thinks that the West is facing a ‘war of cultures’ in the future. Funny how he says in the future, which means he doesn’t have to back up his claims in any way, but implies nonetheless that the ‘war’ must somehow start now. A clear case of warmongering, me thinks, which is illegal in Finland. Or maybe he thinks only of ‘war of cultures’. Convenient sidestep. Do these people ever realise or accept responsibility for the fact that a ‘war of cultures’ inevitably precedes a military or civil war? But then, the basic point is that the dominant classes in European societies should move now to exercise their power and water down the rights of those in the minorities. I mean, that’s basically the essence of the thing. Those rights include the rights of women, the rights of gays and lesbians, the rights of the disabled, the rights of Gypsy and Roma people, the rights of immigrants, the rights of assylum seekers. Nope, they are not ‘native’, or ‘normal’ (based on their rather flawed notions of both). the two things that qualify you for membership of the PS incrowd and all Far Right groups. The fact that these politicians are openly and actively working to undermine the rights of other groups in society should itself be a matter of public disgust. What is the motivation of politicians who work specifically to make the lives of minorities more difficult than they already are? And for what? A more coherant Finnish society? As if Finns need to be told how to be Finns, or that Finns can only be Finns if they are not distracted from it by awareness of a presence of anything from outside that ‘Finnish’ bubble!

    The man is an idiot, of very quesionable moral character. Why doesn’t he try to do something genuinely useful with his political influence, rather than stirring up resentment and poisoning the debate with childish oversimplifications of culture and cultural identity!

  2. Method

    “As if Finns need to be told how to be Finns, or that Finns can only be Finns if they are not distracted from it by awareness of a presence of anything from outside that ‘Finnish’ bubble!”

    This is what makes me mad. I really, truly hate these people who seek to define being Finnish like they own it. The greatest turn off about the PS for me is this socio-christian culture thing they’re pushing. By that – and by any other opportunistic politically created – definition, I’m glad to say I’m not a Finn then.

    This place is my home, I don’t care what name it has. It has been the home of people that came before me and it’s the home of people coming after me. Not very complicated, is it? Christianity for one is just a part of it’s history, but for a nation called Finland it’s been a bigger thing. That nation hasn’t been around that long. I think it might have served it’s purpose and needs to die soon.

    • Enrique

      –By that – and by any other opportunistic politically created – definition, I’m glad to say I’m not a Finn then.

      Method, I totally agree with you. It’s this conservative, antiquated even racist view of other groups that makes the PS such a turn off. If people like you and I want to have greater acceptance in Finland, we must fight for it. We have seen this happen in many parts of the world. How did blacks get greater acceptance in the US and what caused apartheid to be chopped from the knees? It was political and social action.

      Taking this into account, and understanding what the PS is, that is why I am so critical about this right-wing populist party.

  3. Yossie

    “That nation hasn’t been around that long. I think it might have served it’s purpose and needs to die soon.”

    Good to know where you stand. And you wonder why some people dont want immigrant like you?

  4. Mark

    Yossie

    I think you are taking Method too literally – he doesn’t mean there is no need for a nation called Finland, but rather this old idea of nationhood built around a narrow Christian ethic. There are many atheists in Finland; are they excluded from being Finnish?

    Also, even if Method was to think that nationhood in any form is a waste of space, why would that mean that you wouldn’t want him in your country? Is he a threat to you? Is he going to walk into the Parliament and force the politicians to sign a decree disbanding the Finnish Nation? Of course not. It’s just an opinion, and not certainly not a dangerous one, that national identities are an illusion, a waste of space. Do you have this reaction to everyone you disagree with, that you want them thrown out of Finland, or that you don’t want them here?

    The answer to people disagreeing about identities is not to segregate them, kick them out, stop them coming near you! That’s is feeble, pointless, insecure and completely wrong-headed. At the end of the day, if you are happy to celebrate your Finnishness, you are still just as free as you ever were to do that. This sense of threat is like being afraid of ghosts or shadows on the wall. There is no threat. Relax!

  5. BlandaUpp

    Considering that people who immigrate here don’t speak our language when they arrive and that learning the language often takes years of studying from books that give the immigrant a good idea about what Finland and Finnish culture is about added to the fact that one needs to spend several years living in Finland prior to getting a passport, such a test is redundant.

    A Finnish or Swedish language course is a de facto acculturation course.

    PS is as usual just looking for more efficient ways to waste taxpayer money.

    • Enrique

      BlandaUpp, you are absolutely right. The integration process happens the first day that an immigrant steps on his new home country.

  6. andi

    I think that these people are actually insecure and have some strange feeling of inferiority which is why they are campaigning so hard against immigrants, particularly those of muslim backgrounds.

    I also think that anybody who is elected to public office or who otherwise works in the public sector should be honor bound to set a good example and actively encourage integration regardless of their own personal opinions. This would include them automatically loosing their position if they spread hatred and bigotry. Only by setting a stern example will other learn that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. You often here calls for people to apologize for what they have said, but it is very clear to any level headed thinker that they do not mean the apology. Continued wrist slapping by the parties they represent will never work either. The only thing that will work is for them to be thrown out of parliament, to loose their jobs, to be ostracized from society and in cases like Mr Immonen and others of the same party should be heavily fined and perhaps even thrown into prison.

  7. Yossie

    Mark

    To me it shows the ultimate arrogance when an outsider comes to Finland, looks around and goes “Oh no this is not like I want! You should change this and that!”. When I travel, I tend to respect the local ways rather than going “this is shit! change it!”. If I dont like it, then I dont go to such a place.

    I am not going to accept people who aims destroying things I believe are valuable. There is no reason for me to want such people here.

    If you dont like the Finnish ways, culture and so on, you should leave to your native country. For Finns, we only have Finland and we cant return back the way you can.

  8. Mark

    Yossie

    If I had my way, come Easter, I’d put all that Mammi into a fleet of bin lorries, deliver it to Lapland and feed it to the reindeers. The stuff is putrid! 🙂

    Now I’m sorry if that gets your goat up, but there you go. What the hell on earth makes you think that foreigners would come to Finland and ‘like everything’? What a stupid notion. And I suppose you have this equally childish notion that grown men and women are going to come to Finland, find that it has absolutely no services that cater for their particular cultural preferences and are going to just say, ‘well, nyt me ollaan suomessa’! Of course they are going to lobby for the interests of their community, just in the same way all the special interest groups in Finland lobby for the interests of their communities. That, my ignorant friend, is called healthy democracy and even coherant social integration!

    And guess what, you really do have to accept it that people would aim to destroy the things you believe are valuable! What are you going to do about it? Complain? Go ahead. I hope it makes you feel better. If it doesn’t, maybe I can help – as a foreigner, I’m not out to destroy the things you see as valuable, and I do not know of a single foreigner in Finland who has that agenda, though of course I do not know them all! 🙂 So put your paranoia away and relax, man. You can carry on being Finnish long after the Finns have become a minority in Finland 😉

  9. Yossie

    Mark

    “If I had my way, come Easter, I’d put all that Mammi into a fleet of bin lorries, deliver it to Lapland and feed it to the reindeers. The stuff is putrid! ”

    Haha, I feel the same way. However, I would never feel the need to destroy the tradition of course.

    “Now I’m sorry if that gets your goat up, but there you go. What the hell on earth makes you think that foreigners would come to Finland and ‘like everything’? What a stupid notion. And I suppose you have this equally childish notion that grown men and women are going to come to Finland, find that it has absolutely no services that cater for their particular cultural preferences and are going to just say, ‘well, nyt me ollaan suomessa’! Of course they are going to lobby for the interests of their community, just in the same way all the special interest groups in Finland lobby for the interests of their communities. That, my ignorant friend, is called healthy democracy and even coherant social integration!”

    Yes, I suppose I am a bit idealistic. Never really been too fond of it when people play their local politics which goes against the bigger picture. Making bad decisions just to benfit the small/local group. For example the moving of the Medicine administration?(dont know what would be the right translation) from Helsinki just to get some goverment jobs for some smaller city. I suppose thats how it goes but still I dont need to like it.

    Also I dont believe it is Finnish state’s job to offer services for all the different groups. That is why I believe it is best if people cant live without them, they should go somewhere else where such services exist.

    This is one thing I have never understood in “multiculturalism”. People one many cultures and languages around them, but then it makes interaction harder since there is so many fundamentally different ways of life and languages that multiculturalism needs so much translators and multicultural specialists to make it work to begin with. And we are suppose to say it makes us richer? I feel it doesnt sound like efficient and hinders the working society.

    “And guess what, you really do have to accept it that people would aim to destroy the things you believe are valuable! What are you going to do about it? Complain? Go ahead. I hope it makes you feel better.”

    Complain? Of course, vote against it and make my voice heard. Maybe majority disagrees with me? Maybe they dont. I´m going to state my mind out. Maybe I end up like, How you so nicely put in the other post: “old women moaning about the ‘youth of today’”. We´ll see ^^

  10. Yossie

    Oh.. and if I state my mind on the actual topic: I feel its a bad idea. It doesnt really tell anything and as other people have pointed, by the time people would take the test. They would at least know all the meaningful thing they might ask. Waste of resources.

  11. Mark

    Yossie

    – “Yes, I suppose I am a bit idealistic.”

    🙂 Yep, just a bit.

    – “Never really been too fond of it when people play their local politics which goes against the bigger picture.”

    And that, my friend, is absolutely the nail on the head THE biggest problem of Western society. You are on some kind of right track there, I’m sure.

    – “People one many cultures and languages around them, but then it makes interaction harder since there is so many fundamentally different ways of life and languages that multiculturalism needs so much translators and multicultural specialists to make it work to begin with. And we are suppose to say it makes us richer? I feel it doesnt sound like efficient and hinders the working society.”

    I see what you are saying, but I have to say, yes and no. The EU is an institution that is fundamentally geared towards trade, a trade that benefits everyone within the EU to a massive extent, albeit that governments have done a good job of cooking their books to the extent that the Eurozone is teetering on bandkruptcy. But all the panic aside, the EU functions very well, inspite of all the languages and different cultures here. You can be in any country abroad where you don’t speak the language and it can be a hugely daunting experience.

    Diversity is marketable. I mean, in plain economic terms, people like a bit of ‘different’ to the extent that traders (immigrants) who straddle two cultures or countries provide a rich stimulus to the local economies, through food, clothes, cultural trinkets, literature, instruments, music, and tradition. There’s money there and there’s pleasure and enjoyment. The Free Stage at the Barbican in London is a real feast if you fancy hearing the best of other countries folk music, for example. And you don’t have to speak their language to enjoy – the rhythms are cool, the melodies surprisingly familiar and evocative.

    So, yes, it can make us richer. In material and other ways. You know, throughout history, major cities the world over were celebrated because they brought the world to your door, they were a myriad spectacle of ‘otherness’ that whispered adventure, mystique and exoticness. When you were used to the dirty streets of home, the humdrum of factory life or the simple banalities of life’s routines, a sense of ‘another world’ was richly welcomed. Nowadays, I suppose we get enough of that off the telly. I really do suspect though that people’s stomachs for ‘otherness’ are turned when there is even a smidgeon of threat about it, and sadly, very sadly, that was the single most destructive outcome of 9/11. In a way, our increased fear was Bin Laden’s success. Shame.

  12. justicedemon

    Yossie

    Now here is a conundrum for you. After I had been in Finland for about a year, I began campaigning for changes in the administrative procedures used in immigration. Your gut reaction on learning this would evidently have been one of gasp, shock horror, how dare this uppity foreigner tell us how to run our society.

    But would this still be your reaction on discovering that distinguished Finnish lawyers of the calibre of Olavi Sulkunen, Matti Wuori, Olli Mäenpää, Markku Fredman and Martin Scheinin also campaigned for or at least supported those reforms, that the reforms in question were subsequently supported by the Parliamentary Ombudsman who criticised consistent unlawful conduct on the part of immigration authorities in the mid 1980s, that these reforms were finally introduced at the insistence of Parliament and the administrative courts, and that everyone now agrees that we have a better immigration system as a result?

    It seems to me that your gut reaction is merely ad hominem until you have tackled the question of whether a criticism is well-founded. A fool may warn you that it’s raining, but you are a bigger fool if you take that as grounds for leaving your umbrella at home.

    Most Finnish business leaders agree nowadays that it is important to remain receptive to weak signals and opinions formed from disparate viewpoints.

  13. Yossie

    Justicedemon

    I get your point. That was not what I meant. If I take an example out of other topic:

    “I personally went to school in the UK where our sole non white representative was a Sikh guy. The school made the decision when he started that they were going to remove all traces of christian orientated events from the school”

    I would fight against these kind of things no matter who suggest them. If these were suggested by an immigrant, TO ME, it would ADD an insult for lack of respect for local culture.

  14. Mark

    Yossie

    I don’t know the full extent of this reasons for this removing ‘all traces of Christian oriented events from the school”, I’ve said that if it is only to pander to the sensitivity of the Sikh, then this is identity politics of the worst kind.

    However, I do see another possibility here – that the school made a decision to become ‘secular’, and that this matches with our values in society in general nowadays. We are not a very religious society in most of Europe these days, not in the way we have been and certainly not in the way the Americans are.

    We ARE secular these days, so maybe the whole discussion of how a Sikh would fit in only reminded the school board or governers about the reality of their secular values and they were giving up a sense of the past that was no longer relevant (maybe having been a Roman Catholic school previously or a school set up by the Parish etc.).

  15. Yossie

    Mark

    For me it is irrelevant what is the reason. If this would be in Finland, I would be against it. Not because of religious grounds since I am as atheistic as one can be. Even if these are Christian oriented events, I feel they are important part of finnish culture and tradition which I would not give away.

  16. Mark

    Yossie

    With respect, of course it would be relevant and necessary to consider the reasons, otherwise the decision might actually have only been coincidental.

    And I wouldn’t make the mistake of imagining this to happen in Finland, because it was clearly said that this happened in the UK, where church membership comes nowhere near the level among the Finnish population. Also, you seem to have skipped over the part where the school invited representatives from many religious groups to come and be involved in the school through discussion, so Christianity was not being ‘eliminated’.

    And do you really imagine that schools should have all the trappings of religion, including prayers, assemblies, religious education etc., long after the vast majority of the parents in the local area have abandoned religion? Surely that would a time to teach religion as a part of the History lesson? It sounds like opposition to change for the sake of it.

    And by the way, while religion is a part of culture, it must always be remembered that religion is not THE culture of Finland. Church and state are seperate. Finland has a secular executive and judiciary. It seems it is well within the rights of individual schools therefore to decide what level of involvement they want to give to religious groups.

  17. eyeopener

    Citizen test for what???? As if that is any guarantee!!

    And know what……… Mr. Immonen is going to draw up the test. Then the Finnish Board of Education will check the correctness of the test. Next will be the Parliament that have to agree upon the execution of the test. Following will be an experiment if everything is correct. After the statistics have been verified by the University of Helsinki, Department for PhD studies the test can be multiplicated and made ready for the foreigeners who have a long time gone from Finland, forcing the Finns to do work that they have refused to do for 20 or more years.

    Wonderful!!. At least Finland kept some 1000 people in their work for at least one year. And……Finland has a test that might never been used.

    Excellent waste of time, money and necessity.

    Ignorance is a joy forever!!

  18. Method

    Yossie

    I’m an immigrant? That’s funny now. I’m actually smiling. Where did I say that?

    Mark

    Yes I really mean it. The nationship is really just making things more difficult. I’d claim most of these problems we have today – including those of immigration – would not exist, if these nations of Europe just gave up and moved towards same economy, same social system and same laws. I mean then it wouldn’t matter where you lived in Europe. Same benefits and negatives everywhere and you could really just look around and choose where you want to live in Europe.

    For the area of Finland, I guess it would mean people moving out towards warmer and nicer places, but for people like me, it’d just be another day in my home. Where I was born, raised and where I will die. Win-Win situation and all that’s standing in it’s way is this 1900 century relic.

    Enrique

    You think it’s not a political move to redefine “Finnish”, so that it includes more people for the sake of being politically correct? Same goes for that too. I think definitions should only aim towards accuracy, not for making someone happy and empowered.

    • Enrique

      Method, I make that question sincerely without any PC (political correctness) in mind. Living in a globalized world where people move around means that inclusion must work faster. The more inclusive your society is, the more attractive it will be to newcomers.

      I also speak from experience. However you want to see it, the United States is at least in theory a very inclusive country. There is the USAmerican dream that tells the immigrant what he must strive for. I once met a Mexican who told me seriously that he was no longer a Mexican but an “American.” He believed that the US society was so inclusive and accepting that he could build a new identity and erase his old one. In Canada we speak of hyphenated identities while in Argentina, a generation is long enough to make you a part of that society.

      All these identities that I speak of hinge on the person. Society must provide options. Even so, it is the person who makes the final decision what his identity is.

      Culture and identities change constantly. They adapt. Our ability to adapt is what makes us so successful as humans.

  19. Laputis

    Enrique, America, Canada and Argentina are essentialy immigrant countries. Finland is essentially native country. Why are you so stubborn to not admit that?

  20. eyeopener

    @Laputis

    There is nothing to admit for Enrique. The countries you mentioned became immigration countries because of the ignorance, stupidity and intollerance of the “elites”. Have you ever asked the “native population” about their feelings, options and possibilities.

    You are as much an immigrant as I am. The difference however is that you deny any other person that doesnot look, think or act alike you. I accept people who are different and find the dialogue needed to co-exist. You are not even willing to consider that you might be wrong after all.

    Your criticism on my behalf does not even scratch reality. Your world of denial and ignorance have left Norway with 77 dead persons who have nothing to do with “the Breivik phenomenon”. Breivik might be happy to be assessed “criminally insane”. Also for you this gives you an espace. Isn’t it!!

    You blame me for intellectual incompetence because my references to the worsest part of human history. Maybe you should reflect on your own limitations of thoughts when it comes down to “your home in Asia which is not there” or referencing Trotzki or….or…

    Discussion can be very welcome from the moment that you start answering questions posed to you. See several comments from posts in this blog. Am I wrong to say that democracy is an attitude that allows people to have different opinions, that the majority rules in respect of the minority?? Well, please keep democracy then this way and discuss properly.

    Answer the questions!!

  21. eyeopener

    @Laputis

    What would a citizen-test prove??

    Shall we subject a test-group of Finn citizens to the test as well to provide the “real answer” or are the answers already given?? By whom?? and what is their correctness? How are these tests assessed?? By whom??

    The Exam commission should be staffed by Mr. Immonen “brothers in arms”. Isn’t it??

    According to legal rules assessment should be at least verified by two parties!! Do you agree?? So. tell me: How does this test has to be executed, assessed and evaluated??

    Please answer this question. I am not interested in anything else!!

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