Imagine how a political party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* can destroy with their xenophobic and populist sound bites not only the credibility of a government that’s planning to slash billions of euros but the good name of this country abroad.
In one racist statement they soil our country’s image but there is a silver lining: They reveal how much racism is a problem in this country and how much work needs to be done to challenge and eliminate it.
It is a good matter that we have the resources to challenge a social ill like racism. The only matter, in my opinion, that is still lacking, is the will to challenge it on all fronts.
PS party secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo, who is a firm supporter of MEP Jussi Halla-aho’s xenophobic rhetoric, led the charge again on Friday with her comment about refugees.
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
While Slunga-Poutsalo labelled refugees fleeing war in countries like Syria as economic migrants and welfare shoppers, the exact description she used for these “economic migrants” was that they were “surfers” searching for a better standard of living in Europe.
According to her, four out of five refugees that are fleeing to Europe from war-ravaged countries like Syria belong to the latter category. She even went as far as to call these refugees “cowards” because they didn’t stay home and fight for their country.
While all of this is nauseating to read since it’s evident that the PS is using such hostile language to cover up its turncoat decision to approve bailouts for Greece and which it opposed when it was an opposition party, and the fact that they will have no choice but to back government plans to accept as many as 15,000 refugees to Finland this year.
Another problem that has been evident for a long time in the Finnish media is how it continues to give the PS’ party leader and foreign minister, Timo Soin, the benefit of the doubt.
Somehow in this odd narrative painted by the media Soini is the good PS cop but forget that his leadership gave the likes of Slunga-Poutsalo, Halla-aho and others a political voice.
An MTV3 reporter approached Soini in the Eastern Finnish city of Imatra Saturday and asked what he thought about Slunga-Poutsalo’s demeaning description of refugees coming to Europe.
“We don’t debate on anyone’s terms and we aren’t going to do that now,” snapped Soini.
The reporter insisted and asked the PS chairman and foreign minister what he thought about the choice of words that Slunga-Poutsalo used.
“Didn’t I express myself clearly enough?” he said with the reporter repeating the question.
“I answered your question and I will answer the question as I wish.”
It’s clear from Soini’s high-and-dry place that migrants and minorities in this country will continue to face a hostile country as long as the PS have so much political power, and for as long as politicians from other parties nod approvingly at them with their silence.
* 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.