The closer terrorist acts hit us like the one that befell Paris on Friday, the fewer the arguments nationalist-populist politicians have to defend their Islamophobia. While this may not apply to all of Europe, especially to Eastern European countries like Hungary and Slovakia, it has come as a political blow to anti-immigration politicians in Finland.
What can you say and how would you interpret what Perussuomalaiset (PS)* head, Timo Soini, said after the Paris attacks?
“There is a danger that innocent people, who are escaping terror and terrorism would be related to [the Paris attacks],” he was quoted as saying in the national media.
President Sauli Niinistö and Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo confirmed what Soini said.
Certainly one reason why Finland’s head of state and its ministers said what they did is because they are not only concerned about Isis-inspired terrorism in Europe but the homegrown kind that could spring from careless Islamophobic statements that could lead to deaths.
Words have consequences and can be easily turned into bullets and bombs.
But should we take Soini’s warning in earnest or does his statement reveal the power struggle in his party between politicians like MEP Jussi Halla-aho and himself?
We mustn’t forget that it was Soini who gave a political voice to xenophobes in his party.
If there is an apology that should be given to migrants and minorities in Finland, it should come from the PS and Soini.
It is ironic but as terrorism gets closer to us the clearer we some of us are able to distinguish between fact and anti-immigration fiction.
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names 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.