Migrant Tales raises its hat to Swedish People’s Party chairman, Carl Haglund, for challenging Perussuomalaiset (PS) Timo Soini on Helsingin Sanomat to an open debate about racism. Apart from immigrants and visible minorities, Finland’s Swedish-speaking population, which number about 291,000, has been under near-constant attack by the PS.
It is unfortunate but understandable in today’s Finland that only a small party like Haglund’s is the only one openly challenging Soini on a crucial issue like racism. If the PS ever won an election that would make Soini the country’s next prime minister, the country’s Swedish-speaking population would, like immigrants and other minorities, have the most to lose.
The reaction of some PS MPs reinforces the latter.
PS MP Reijo Tossavainen, who suggested in May 2011 with Teuvo Hakkarainen that Finland should close its borders to asylum seekers, slammed Haglund’s attack on Soini as “childish.”
Haglund recently asked on Helsingin Sanomat a timely question: Why is he the only one challenging Soini on racism? Why are the other parties so silent?
The answer is pretty obvious. There are two answers to this question: the biggest parties are too afraid to do so and/or silently agree with many of the populist policies of the PS.
Even if the PS can be called Finland’s Immigrantionphobe Party in the same way as The Independent called the Ukip, Soini’s followers are ostensibly anti-EU and want to relegate Finland’s second official language, Swedish, to the dustbin of history.
Haglund correctly pointed out last month when Soini appeared on BBC’s HARDTalk that the PS leader shamed Finland because he treated, as he usually does, racism with kid gloves.
Whatever Soini may want to say, he got caught off guard by BBC’s HARDtalk journalist Stephen Sackur.
One of the these situations was when Soini attempted to defend PS MP Hakkarainen and his use of the n-word in Finland which is “completely unacceptable and racist.”
Soini: “I said [to Hakkarainen] don’t use that kind of [racist] language.”
Sackur: “Why didn’t you fire him?”
Soini: “Why should I?”
Saucker: “Because if people use that sort of completely derogatory word towards people of a different race it suggests that they are racist.”
Soini: “Yes, but he hasn’t said he’s a racist and I don’t believe he is a racist.”