The lessons from Tampere

by , under All categories, Enrique

Some Finns took a deep sigh of relief when the deadly fire that cost the lives of three innocent victims wasn’t racially motivated but one perpetrated by the immigrant owner in a failed insurance scam.

All the political gains that far-right members of the True Finns led by Jussi Halla-aho expected to make from this tragic event didn’t materialize because it was a false-alarm wake-up call to what kinds of scars racism can leave on society.

One of the greatest threats to our image abroad is racism. Imagine what would happen if our country turned into a Denmark after the April 2011 election? Where would our noble egalitarian values be? What about our world-class educational system? Would we start teaching students to loathe those that are different from us?

The Tampere fire also caused a few red faces, namely that of Social Democrat MPs Päivi Lipponen and Kimmo Kiljunen. Even before the official police report came out, both claimed that the fire was an act of racism. Lipponen apologized today in her blog for her remarks.

Adding salt to injury, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat‘s editorial slammed Lipponen and Kiljunen.  It asked whether Lipponen and Kiljunen trusted “the people” of Finland. Ilta-Sanomat said that both politicians see their people so “racist, aggressive and criminal that whenever a crime happens against immigrants they automatically blame Finns.”

Pretty strong words coming from a tabloid that has shaped in many respects some Finns’ racist perceptions of foreigners especially in the early 1990s when Somalis started to come to Finland.

Despite all the questions and concern that the fire in Tampere caused, there is one matter it will not change: the challenges that Finland faces concerning its ever-growing immigration population.

It will not, unfortunately, also bring back the lives of the three persons that died.

Now the law must take its course and find suitable punishment for those that caused the crime.

  1. Klay_Immigrant

    This article is a joke right?

    Somehow you have managed to relate an insurance scam gone wrong resulting in 3 deaths committed by an immigrant to racism in Finland. What does the Finnish public and racism have anything to do with this crime?

    ‘One of the greatest threats to our image abroad is racism. Imagine what would happen if our country turned into a Denmark after the April 2011 election? Where would our noble egalitarian values be? What about our world-class educational system? Would we start teaching students to loathe those that are different from us?’

    This paragraph is so off topic that it’s beyond being funny. Again please explain what has this got to do with the crime? If a Finn was the culprit then fine but stop pretending it was and linking it to racism.

    ‘All the political gains that far-right members of the True Finns led by Jussi Halla-aho expected to make from this tragic event didn’t materialize because it was a false-alarm wake-up call to what kinds of scars racism can leave on society.’

    How do you come up with this conclusion? If anything it’s good news to the far-right True Finns members as it has emphasised and reinforced their views on immigrants and how destructive immigrants are to society.

    But the most disturbing part of this article is that on not one occasion have you ever said that in order for immigrants to improve their reputation and decrease racism in Finland they have to first look at themselves as a lot of it they bring it upon themselves deservedly. This crime is another example of that. If you give people reasons to be hostile to you then you have to take some of the blame.

    Sadly this point seems to have evaded you Enrique which can only imply that immigrants can do whatever they want even resulting in deaths and you will still rather prefer to talk about racism in Finland then say that immigrants have to clean up their act.

    • Enrique

      –If you give people reasons to be hostile to you then you have to take some of the blame.

      That is a pretty absurd affirmation. It’s a bit like when the rapist said that it was the woman’s fault because of the way she dressed. In our society we have laws against racism. You seem to condone it.

  2. Risto

    “That is a pretty absurd affirmation. It’s a bit like when the rapist said that it was the woman’s fault because of the way she dressed.”

    Equating wearing a mini skirt with getting three people killed because of petty greed – that seems pretty absurd to me.

    “In our society we have laws against racism.”

    As such racism of course is not a crime and will not be unless having unwanted thoughts is criminalized. I don’t also get it why it is considered good idea to give harsher punishment if somebody smokes three people to death because or racism (as Ms Lipponen thought) instead of just wanting to get an insurance payment (as seems to have been the actual case)

  3. Tiwaz

    -“That is a pretty absurd affirmation. It’s a bit like when the rapist said that it was the woman’s fault because of the way she dressed. In our society we have laws against racism. You seem to condone it.”

    So you should take a good look into your own post and see how racist you come across.

    Only difference between skinhead and you is that skinhead spews hatred towards everyone who has darker tone in skin and you spew hatred towards Finns.

    “Finnish racism” etc etc. Again you try to turn IMMIGRANT crime into FINNISH FAULT.

    I am disgusted at your racist attitude Enrique.

    • Enrique

      –So you should take a good look into your own post and see how racist you come across.

      Your example is absurd and in bad taste. It is like accusing a concentration camp victim of being an SS officer. It is another “favorite” defense of the far right that does not work here. Do you also believe in ikärasismia? Are you a “racist” against meat? It’s incredible how ignorant people are of racism. Thank you for livening up my afternoon.

      –I am disgusted at your racist attitude

      There you go again… I have a suggestion: take some Samarin if you suffer from bad indigestion.

  4. Hannu

    “All the political gains that I and far-left members of the communists led by Päivi Lipponen expected to make from this tragic event didn’t materialize because it was a done by foreigners as excepted.”

    Fixed that to you.

    • Enrique

      Wow, Hannu, is Päivi Lipponen a communist? I thought she was a Social Democrat. Aren’t some of them very much in tune with the True Finns like Heinäluoma and Rajamäki?

  5. Tampere

    What happened in Tampere will help the True Finns next year and especially in the Tampere area, as the people of Tampere are now seeing the benefits of an multicultural society

    If you want to create a multicultural paradise in Finland you should not focus on the so called “Finnish Racist” but on the people who bring the problems which come with immigration into Finland the Finns will not be so negative towards the idea of multicultural Finland.

    • Enrique

      Hi Tampere, so what are you going to do about our multiethnical society? Kick everyone that isn’t Finnish? Do I think this will help the True Finns? Not really. They will implode like happened with SMP in the 1970s. Why? Because they don’t have a program.

    • Enrique

      Yes, Tony, you should include Latin America, many parts of Europe in your discussion. Or, as you usually suggest, only one group is responsible for this?

  6. JusticeDemon

    This is simply the converse of the Myyrmanni shopping centre bombing. In that case, as in this one, some people were too keen to jump to conclusions.

    The old Finnish custom of arson was not, as I recall, usually about insurance but about solving the problem of listed buildings occupying locations that would otherwise be prime construction plots.

  7. Tony Garcia

    “Or, as you usually suggest, only one group is responsible for this?”

    Not really, but without it Europe would be in a much better situation. Luckily Finland’s “multi-ethnical” society is a drop in the ocean (a fraction of its less then 4% immigrant population). And with the boost True Finns got from Lipponen and Kiljunen I see a much brighter future for Finland.

    • Enrique

      –Not really, but without it Europe would be in a much better situation.

      These are statements that give me the creeps. And after you kicked them out what other group will we have to vilify to make Europe safer? If you ask JusticeDemon, he would point his sights at Brazilians because of the danger they imply to our biodiversity.

  8. Tampere

    Now all other parties have jumped on the “Immigration” issue e.g Tougher asylum laws.
    The next step for the True Finns to stay ahead of the other parties on this issue is the question of Returnees
    Even If the people involved in the Fire where not illegal immigrants this could be used to bring the issue of not just stopping illegal immigration into Finland but also the question of returning illegal immigrants to their home country or to a third close safe country.
    Even the green party have now said that immigration will be one if not the biggest issue next year, to believe that the issue can turned from “No” to “Yes” over the space of what 5 months is a impossible dream.
    what happened in Tampere will push more people towards “No”.
    If we are to look at people not as individuals but as Finns and Non Finns (as many do on the issue of immigration) when Finland passes on of the toughest asylum and returnees laws in the EU then the immigrant population of Finland does have to take some
    responsibility for this

    • Enrique

      Tampere, what is your end-game? If you are trying to bash one group and trying to make Finland attractive for another you are making a big mistake. How many people want to live in Denmark? How many foreigners want to move and work to Finland even if we are not a Denmark?

      I personally believe that one wing of the True Finns has no idea about what immigration is and how it works. If you belong to this group, I am not worried in the least because your tampering with immigration policy will be like a layman building a nuclear reactor: boom!

      Do you think that all the money that Finland’s educational system has spent is to turn out xenophobes? I doubt it. What about when the economy improves?

      An updtate: I read an opinion piece in Kansan Uutiset and I agree fully with what they say about this boloney line of the True Finns that they are not against immigration but against immigration policy.This means that you are not openlyagainst black immigrants that live here but against the policy that allows them to move to Finland.

      If I may add, bashing Muslims and then stating that you are not against immigration is another slice of major boloney. This is the way some members of the True Finns make their xenophobia more marketable. It doesn’t, however, work in this blog.

  9. Tony Garcia

    “And after you kicked them out what other group will we have to vilify to make Europe safer?”

    Why do they need to be kicked out? They can assimilate and be Europeans just like anyone else.

  10. JusticeDemon

    Tony the Toby

    But these Brazilians don’t assimilate, do they? They dance half naked in our streets, burn down our forests, take forever to learn Finnish and instead teach their mumbojumbo patois to their pequenino.

    They can never be Europeans.

    Tolerance is a great Finnish virtue. We shouldn’t waste it on these ingrates.

  11. Tony Garcia

    “I personally believe that one wing of the True Finns has no idea about what immigration is and how it works. “

    And you do…

    • Enrique

      At least I understand it because (a) I have been an immigrant all my life and (b) because I have studied it. I have lived successfully in many countries and adapted well. I must be doing something right. I am not maladapted and preaching how immigrants should be. I am a survivor because immigration and higher education have taught me many things you never learn by listening to far-right rhetoric.

  12. Risto

    “How many people want to live in Denmark?”

    Last time (which wasn’t that long time ago) talked with a foreign born professor in Copenhagen, recruiting talented young people to his lab all over the world, that didn’t seem to be a problem.

    It seems you have a fixed opinion about the things and then you force, now matter how much violence to the facts you have to do, events of the world to fit your view, such as:

    “All the political gains that far-right members of the True Finns led by Jussi Halla-aho expected to make from this tragic event didn’t materialize because it was a false-alarm wake-up call..”

    – while it ought to have been patently obviously it was those in the left like Ms. Lipponen who hoped to score political points out of this. While they though a “white” man was behind the disgusting crime, they wanted to call mass demonstrations, when it turned out be made by Iraqi’s then the line changed to “move along, nothing to be seen here, it was just an individual event with no wider relevance”.

  13. Tampere

    Anti immigration is not far right rhetoric, many people who are anti immigration do have left liberal views
    Pim Fortuyn for example a man whose sexuality would be a problem for him in the Islamic sate of Holland.
    The days when being anti immigration was a exclusive view from the far right are well over.
    Even though they did not vote in France many left parties support the governments ban on the headscarf as they saw the headscarf as oppression of women and against the values of what Europe is based on which is the complete reverse to what Islam is founded one.
    Anti immigration is not Far Right, Anti immigration is supporting a free society and embracing the modern world and not feeling oppressed by others who are still thinking is stuck in the Medieval world

    • Enrique

      –Anti immigration is not far right rhetoric, many people who are anti immigration do have left liberal views Pim Fortuyn for example a man whose sexuality would be a problem for him in the Islamic sate of Holland.

      In this blog we are very much for the defense of civil liberties. This includes everyone’s right to the laws enshrined in our laws like religious freedom. If you want to look at what some left-wing politicians think about the subject of immigration take a look at Eero Heinäluoma and Kari Rajamäki. The latter more than the former is more in line with the True Finns than so-called liberal left-wing thinking. In a nutshell, you will find racism in every group, even those that claim to be “international” and “socialist.”

      You don’t seem to get it do you? We are all interlinked in many ways. One of these is immigration. So you, who are ready to take away religious freedom are concerned about the headscarf and oppressed women? Please, don’t make me laugh. That is all rhetoric that does not make any sense.

  14. JusticeDemon

    Tampere

    Your last post quite clearly links anti immigration with opposition to Islam.

    The intention is to make public policy an instrument of religious discrimination.

    This is not legally possible without changing the Finnish constitution and renouncing international treaties that Finland has ratified.

    You have no intention of doing this. You just hope that people will vote for you out of ignorance that your declared policy programme is unworkable without a new night of the long knives.

    THAT is precisely far right rhetoric.

    QED

  15. Tony Garcia

    A successful immigrants doesn’t make necessarily a specialist in immigration. Particularly immigration from a violent and non-adaptable group like Muslims.

    • Enrique

      Tony, seriously, I disagree. The people you claim are bad are some of the greatest people I have met. When we meet in FInland, I will introduce you to them. To be frank, they have better chances of adapting than many others who may have it easier due to their skin color.

    • Enrique

      As I mentioned it is there and you have to live with it. That is how things work in our part of the world.

  16. Tampere

    If there is enough support then the Finnish people will agree to remove themselves from theses treaties.
    But Finland does not need to go down this path, there is only around a few percent of the population that can be a threat to the identity of the Finnish population as most of theses where illegal immigrants a strict asylum and returnees policy could remove this problem.
    And with the only way to Enter Finland is through legal channels then Finland has control of its borders without breaking any of it treaties or human rights laws.
    But you also need to remember that over many countries in Europe over the next two decades the anti immigration parties will have enough political power to remove asylum and possible membership from the EU from there charters ,which will lead onto a knock on effect across Europe.

  17. Tampere

    So you are saying that you would allow Finland to become an Islamic state because of religion freedom
    But if Finland was to become an Islamic state then as an “Non Believer” you would loose your civil liberties
    You may have no problem with this but many people do have a problem with this.

    There has never been a country of time period where there has been total civil liberties for all, its just impossible for that to happen .
    History is littered with examples of only one of us can be truly free and the other will be not be ,and because of issues facing Europe we still have to go down that route,
    Had we not had multiculturalism and of course the EU then Europe would be a more free continent but theses
    two issues are making it more difficult because they are forcing people into a corner and when you are in that position you don’t have another choice but to react enough to get yourself out from that situation

    • Enrique

      –So you are saying that you would allow Finland to become an Islamic state because of religion freedom

      Tell me how this will happen.

      Tampere read the Constitution and Non-Discrimination Act. Are you familiar with them? I guess not.

      So how are you going to react if we already live in a culturally diverse society? This is the part where the True Finns and other far-right parties go off the road. You are against “multiculturalism” but you offer no sensible way of riding Europe of it. I had to disappoint you but there is no way you will rid Europe of its cultural diversity.

  18. JusticeDemon

    Tampere

    The Aliens Act is freely available on the Finlex index. Why don’t you explain precisely what you would change and what the consequences would be, both positive and negative? Oh, of course, I forgot – we’re not supposed to understand anything about the concrete issues of immigration policy and its links to economic growth and efficient administration. You have already shown your own ignorance of this public policy area with that spectacularly aberrant use of the term returnee (November 26, 2010 at 2:08 pm). I’ll give you a clue: Finland has recently modified its returnee policy by ending the general privilege extended to Ingrians from Russia and Estonia.

    Here is your problem, Tampere: everybody who makes a serious study of Finland’s immigration policy concludes that there is very little that can be changed without infringing international treaty commitments, returning to methods that were previously tried and found wanting, damaging economic growth or massively increasing the workload and cost of public administration. This means that any political party attempting to force an agenda in this sector would do so against the recommendations of its own advisers and take full political responsibility for doing so. To put that more plainly – they would make a pig’s ear of this policy area and not be able to blame their civil servants.

    As for the rest of your analysis, a Europe of isolationist nation States energetically pursuing their own narrow self-interest has been tried before. The modern Republic of Finland owes its very existence to the efforts made since 1945 to find a different way of managing international relations.

  19. Tony Garcia

    Few weeks ago we established here that in UK the Muslim’s religious yooman rites triumph over the right of blind people to take public transport. Now can we say that the same yooman rites also triumphs over the women rights to decide what they’ll wear?

  20. Tony Garcia

    “So how are you going to react if we already live in a culturally diverse society?”

    With less than 4% immigrants and most of it Russians and Westerners, I think our “diverse” society is not that diverse as many want us to believe…

  21. JusticeDemon

    Finland is culturally diverse even without immigration.

    There is also no cut-off point at which a cultural difference is too small to become a source of conflict, because the problem is not cultural diversity as such, but cultural insecurity. For all of the efforts made over the last 150 years in high and popular culture, the criticism of the Svecoman movement still rankles in the soul of the Finnish speaker. We do not consider a person cultured in Finland unless he or she speaks at least one major foreign language fluently. This is still one of the main ways of identifying the juntti. The only significant difference between the Finland of 1930 and 2010 is that there is no longer a presumption that the civilising second or foreign language will be Swedish.

    This state of affairs is quite similar to views about Latin and Greek when the English language began to emerge. It was wonderfully satirised in Yes Minister, and of course that satire is only possible because a trace of the idea of a learned language of culture has survived to the present day.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL_m5Czneno&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0]

  22. Klay_Immigrant

    -‘Then why make such a big issue of it?’

    For the same reason to have fire alarms and fire extinguishers in buildings, to prevent a dangerous and harmful situation from occurring. If there is a wise and strict immigration policy in place NOW then no actions will need to be taken in future. It’s all about long term thinking and solutions not a quick fix alternative that in time will be detrimental.

    • Enrique

      –For the same reason to have fire alarms and fire extinguishers in buildings, to prevent a dangerous and harmful situation from occurring.

      Please, Klay, you sound like a scratched record with no brains. You so-called “wise” immigration would be to allow only those that you like in Europe (a pipedream) and would strengthen the hand of racism. Wake up, dude, there are already many minorities in Europe. One of these European minorities are the Muslims. Is that difficult for you to grasp?

  23. Tony Garcia

    “For the same reason to have fire alarms and fire extinguishers in buildings,”

    Unless you are an Iraqi pizzeria owner, they prefer not to have those… Just in case…

    • Enrique

      OK, so from your reasoning all Iraqis should not be given licenses to open a pizzeria. Is that your recipe?

  24. Risto

    “OK, so from your reasoning all Iraqis should not be given licenses to open a pizzeria. Is that your recipe?”

    We might make it harder for them to milk money from the system: Tighter control of start-up money’s (The news mentioned how the place had changed owners in rather rapid rotation), make them actually pay taxes (seems to be more of an exception than a norm that you get a receipt when paying cash) and automatic deportation for anybody caught with attempted insurance or other fraud – even if they hadn’t killed anybody in the process. That would have made industry healthier, and there probably would be still three young people alive in Tampere today.

  25. Osmo

    We are so educated aren’t we? But, without wisdom, education is nothing, and a good country can become one that is much worse. Let me hear some good arguments for open immigration to Finland. I have not heard a single good reason why we should invite people from say, South of Italy to Finland. What are the results thus far and where does it look like we are going? Enrique, you claim to have a lot of wisdom, maybe even more than your opposition, the ethnic Finns, what do you say, how would Finland benefit: economically, socially and morally for example?

  26. JusticeDemon

    Osmo

    I haven’t seen anyone advocating open immigration here, but perhaps you can show me where I missed this.

    I think it’s better to invite a specialist from southern Italy to do a job in my Finnish enterprise than to wait several years in the hope of training up a comparable local specialist while watching my business go under, or to dismiss all of my employees and move my capital investment to Salerno where the specialist is available.

    I think it’s better to allow my current specialist to live with her Italian spouse in Finland than to see her head off to Salerno in order to raise her family there while working for my Italian competitor.

    I think in general that it’s better to trade with other countries in a relationship of mutual interdependency than to fight wars with them.

    Of course I could be wrong. Perhaps Finland should seek world domination by force of arms instead.

  27. JusticeDemon

    Osmo

    The last time I checked a map, it was Malta.

    Perhaps I should give you the benefit of the doubt in omitting the definite article but using a capital letter for South. However, the point remains the same wherever the specialist is prevented from immigrating from or is forced to emigrate to. For Salerno, substitute Valletta, Tripoli, Yaoundé, Kinshasa or Cape Town with exactly the same force mutatis mutandis.

    Show me where anyone advocated open immigration. You can’t. The current policy line of the Finnish government and administration is officially described as hallittu maahanmuutto, in line with the expression used in the 1997 all-party consensus report of the Björklund Commission Hallittu maahanmuutto ja tehokas kotoutuminen. This report provides much of the underlying rationale for the current Aliens Act and the Integration Act.

    Now I realise that education, systematic reasoning and research are poor substitutes for Sam Cooke-style gut reactions, but this is how public policy is made in the Nordic countries.

    • Enrique

      –Well then, Finland will end up like Britain and France. Too bad.

      Osmo this is very revealing and that you did not mention Canada as a “bad” example. Contrary to your way of seeing things, immigration and cultural diversity are not a societal malices that has to be dealt in a draconian fashion. Quite the contrary. It is an opportunity for nations but too many in Europe are still stuck in their own issues (historical and otherwise) to make immigration work for everyone. But the fact remains: Europe is already diverse; there are many religions and ethnicities living amongst us that are also European. The problem is that you have a romantic view of Finland that does not exist; ie it is ok for Canada to be diverse ethnically but not Finland.

  28. Tiwaz

    -“Osmo this is very revealing and that you did not mention Canada as a “bad” example.”

    He most likely does not know much about Canada. But it too is bad example. Things in Canada were just peachy as long as immigration was mainly western one. Reasonably small cultural differences, fit in pretty well.

    Today, Canadians are feeling increasingly unhappy with import of completely alien cultural traditions and problems.

    I once again point out to Canadian who was happy to leave her hometown as she was getting troubled by Middle Eastern immigrants continuing their little vendettas there.

    -“Contrary to your way of seeing things, immigration and cultural diversity are not a societal malices that has to be dealt in a draconian fashion. Quite the contrary.”

    It is malice when immigrants want locals to adjust to immigrant culture instead of immigrants adjusting to existing society.

    There is good immigration, where immigrants adjust to surroundings. And bad immigration, where they expect surroundings to adjust.

    -“It is an opportunity for nations but too many in Europe are still stuck in their own issues (historical and otherwise) to make immigration work for everyone. But the fact remains: Europe is already diverse; there are many religions and ethnicities living amongst us that are also European.”

    Apparently you are still unable to grasp that width of cultural gap is very important aspect. Already the gap is large enough to cause bad blood when we speak of representatives from opposite ends of Europe, introduce non-european and non-western cultures and you have outright conflict.

    -“The problem is that you have a romantic view of Finland that does not exist; ie it is ok for Canada to be diverse ethnically but not Finland.”

    It is OK for Canada to ruin itself. It does not have millenia of history behind it’s culture.

    We Finns value our culture and tradition and want to keep them alive. Not change them because foreigners can’t grasp it.

  29. Tiwaz

    And since you love trying to prevent me from pointing your racism:

    –”Your example is absurd and in bad taste.”

    No it isn’t. It is precisely correct. You do not need evidence, you do not need anything to get up on your soapbox and scream bloody murder and accuse Finns being racist when hair in the head of immigrant is broken.

    Skinhead does not need evidence of lack of worth of immigrant to speak against them.

    You are both racists.

  30. JusticeDemon

    Tiwaz

    Please tell us more about the millennia of history behind Finnish culture.

    Perhaps you have new evidence that the Great Pyramid of Giza was designed by Alvar Aalto and constructed by YIT corporation using heavy machinery made by Valmet?

    What were the Finns doing four and a half thousand years ago?

    • Enrique

      –What were the Finns doing four and a half thousand years ago?

      Tiwaz is looking for the missing link somewhere near Peräseinäjoki. Could you tell us Tiwaz why a certain group came down from the trees and became bipedal knuckle walkers? Was it too difficult to build saunas on branches? Is that why they stopped being arboreal?

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