The tragic events that occurred at the Sello Mall on December 31 in the suburb of Leppavaara located next door to Helsinki do not only shed light on a deranged man but continue to feed some of our highly polarized feelings on immigration and refugee policy.
An article by Kristiina Markkanen in the English-language Helsingin Sanomat highlights some of these questions. In my opinion, the knee-jerk reaction of some Finns and the complacent silence of some politicians on the killings show that we still have a very long way to go before our society can relate to immigrants/refugees in a near-normal fashion.
Even though such a harrowing event must be condemned vociferously by all members of society, it should not serve as a platform to ostracize immigrants and refugees living in Finland.
If we go deeper into the context of the tragic killings, what questions do they bring about how Finnish society views immigrants and refugees?
(1) Immigrants/refugees are still such a new phenomenon in Finland that we have trouble relating to these people in a normal societal fashion;
(2) Immigrants/refugees have little to no say in Finland and politicians/policy-makers treat them as charity. They hold minuscule political, economic and demographic weight in society.
What is most incredulous in the one-sided immigrant debate after the Sello Mall killings is that some Finns, with the tacit wanted or unwanted silent approval of some politicians, can generalize freely without almost any opposition to include all immigrants and refugees.
The truth is that the shock that the Sello Mall killings caused on Finns was equally felt by all members of our society.