We must stand up against racism in Finland for the sake of future generations

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

If the Perussuomalaiset (PS) enter the next government what will it mean for Finland and for the immigrant community in particular? Will anti-immigration rhetoric start to pick up and the attacks against anyone who is not white reach alarming heights?

If there is one quality of the PS that raises concern it is their hostility to immigrants. Everything is quiet now but PS MPs like James Hirvisaari are getting impatient and are starting to smell blood.

In his latest blog entry, Hirvisaari, who is one of the few PS MP members of the Nazi-spirited Suomen Sisu association, assures us that his party’s success on April 17 was due to its anti-EU and anti-immigration stance.

Since 19.1% of the population voted for the PS for these two main reasons, Hirvisaari believes that he and the party now have a carte blanche to tighten immigration policy further and make life harder for immigrants in this country.

Even if Timo Soini has said that the anti-immigration vote played a minor role in the election, Hirvisaari is one of the most eager Muslim and immigrant bashers of the PS. He, if anyone, leads social media lynch mobs against foreigners on the net with his xenophobic writings that normally demonize Muslims.

A good example of his enthusiasm to discredit refugees and immigrants in Finland was an alleged rape case of a seventeen-year-old girl last year by a suspected asylum-seeker.  In his blog entry, Hirvisaari wastes no time in pointing the accusing finger and conveniently forgets that in Finland people are innocent before proven guilty.

Even if the Lammi rape case appears to have been a fabrication by the girl, it shows how racism and eager politicians wast no time to feed their followers with xenophobic theatrics.

The finger-pointing and pseudo-theories put out by some politicians who seek political profit from spreading stereotypes of immigrants make life harder for immigrants who work, pay taxes and raise families. They reinforce everything that is questionable in Finns.

If the PS sit on the next government, it is doubtful that they will change their ways  and their anti-immigration stance. Shouldn’t the racist outbursts of PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen have been enough proof that the party is unfit to govern. Racism does not ruin political careers in Finland but seems to help them.

While everyone has the right to express his opinions in this country, the rhetoric put out by some PS MPs is not conducive to building bridges between the immigrant community and Finns. They create, instead, resentment.

Taking into account the possibility that the PS may form part of the next government, it is vital that immigrants and Finns of all backgrounds join hands and challenge one of the darkest periods in history for immigrants in this country.

We will have ourselves to blame if we allow the likes of Hirvisaari and others turn Finland into a shooting gallery against immigrants and minorities.

We aren’t standing up for ourselves but for our children and grandchildren so they may live and be treated with dignity in this country.

  1. Niko

    Aren’t you overreacting just little bit? Your texts makes it sound like Finland doesn’t have any other parties in the government. As I have understood Finland doesn’t have a one-party system…

    • Enrique

      I am not overreacting to anything. The racits attacks and the thick anti-immigration atmosphere in Finland is real not a fantasy. You would be outraged by people in power as well if they started to play around with you like political fodder. There are certain lines that are not crossed and racism is one of them. That should ring out loud and clear in Finland and in any society that wants to call itself “civilized.”

  2. Niko

    I’m just saying that True Finns are not alone in the government and can’t just make things as they please. Also there are 39 True Finns MPs and some of them are not as strict with immigration issue as, for example, Hirvisaari or Hakkarainen.

    • Enrique

      Hi Niko, you are right that there are only 30 MPs that got elected on 19.1% of the vote. THe PS should, therefore, learn to play ball for the sake of Finland and remember that 80.9% of voters voted for other parties. I get a sensation that despite the 19.1% that the PS got it feels to them like over 50%?

      We are here on Migrant Tales for free speech and we welcome different opinions. I may disagree with your but it doesn’t mean that I have to censor you. On the contrary, I may learn from you. However, freedom of speech does not mean going around insulting other groups and acting like some renegade from our values in the Constitution.

      There are a lot of people who are truly worried by the situation, especially those that have the most to lose: immigrants and minorities.

  3. Singaporean_in_Finland

    @Enrique

    This fake rape case wasn’t even the worst. The widely reported gang rape of a girl by 3 black men (http://bit.ly/iB0ShB) just before the elections also turned out to be false but the follow up story proving it to be false wasn’t widely reported (http://bit.ly/m6xp3e).

    Reporting fake rapes implicating dark skinned men is becoming a regular occurrence in Finland it seems (http://bit.ly/mgTOd1).

    • Enrique

      Singaporean_in_Finland, I know about that fabrication being raped by three black men in a van. Imagine how much damage a person like that can harm the good name of other hard-working immigrants. What is even more shameful is how some politicians use these fake rapes to further their political careers and fuel the hatred of people who are alrady multiculturally challenged.

  4. Arto

    “Even if the Lammi rape case appears to have been a fabrication by the girl, it shows how racism and eager politicians wast no time to feed their followers with xenophobic theatrics.”

    To be fair, I am sure you recognize this happens to the other direction too. For example, remember the reactions of Päivi Lipponen and Kimmo Kiljunen after the deadly arson of the pizzeria in Tampere:
    http://www.iltalehti.fi/uutiset/2010112412754094_uu.shtml

  5. Allan

    The media had at one time a responsibility to present the truth. However these days it is making screaming headlines and false accusations that remain as the “truth” and then maybe a correction a week later on the inner pages nobody pays attention to. If even that.

    The police, sometimes for obvious reasons do not dispense too much information. It is very rare they go for a false-flag operation like with the Turku kidnapping case. However the media then also edits the official takes, so the “police are suspecting two men” and the political agenda the reporter is after will point at a certain direction as with the pizzeria case. Never mind the media hysteria the reporters caused the Tampere pizzeria owners were waiting for the nonexistant reprisals. After all Finland is not multicultural in that way.

    Fortunately the Internet is these days available so one can research more than one source.

  6. Allan

    The racits attacks and the thick anti-immigration atmosphere in Finland is real not a fantasy.

    Even if your fantacies are real to you, that does not make them any more real in the actual world.

  7. mindgrinder

    I have my tale to tell, i am from India the most multicultured country in the world, and its not that we are struggling, even with one billion ppl we have a little less unemployment rate % than finland (i was shocked when i read that). I have lot of finnish friends may be only finnish friends around here. I have been racially commented thrice in Helsinki (and i am a brown guy not even close to black). and i understand a little finnish

    I was here for 3 months to train ppl cuz some company needed me for a special skill, which they do not find in Finland and obviously due to currency conversion it was way cheaper for the company. The whole world is becoming multi cultural but that attitude just left a negative impression in my mind.

    I agree some ppl are bad, few days ago i saw some black teenagers dressed in very unwilling manner and pretty loud in the train, i agree these ppl should blend in! If you want your culture share it don’t force it on finland. 1st should be finnish culture then your own.

    However, with political parties generalizing all races as immigrants is bad, i have no intention of ever staying in Finland, i belong to a well household back in my country, my finnish friends are even forcing me to take up citizenship and stay here, but i said no my life is back there.

    Its not that all finns are bad, they are good ppl, mostly minding their own business a quality i cherish!

    But politics should bring ppl together, this attitude of a few political parties is only going to lead to chaos and riots and gangs.

    I believe media should play a role in multiculturalism, finland and India has good relationships lot of pacts, now even a deal for bollywood to come and shoot in Finland is signed this June, but with this attitude its gonna be like Australia and India a tussle, which is bad for both countries.

    • Enrique

      Thank you mindgrinder for sharing your tale with us. I have never visited India but it is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. When speaking of multiculturalism, I think one of the ways to make it successful is to live and let live culturally speaking. It’s when one group starts to impose and deny others their cultural rights. This must be why so many cultures can live side by side in India without causing strife. You had one serious problem, which was Pakistan, but that is basically history now. Another successful multicultural country was the Ottoman Empire until around the mid-nineteenth century.

      Why does cultural diversity work in India?

  8. mindgrinder

    @Enrique Well Pakistan was a part of India earlier, there problem is a piece of land and nothing else. If you look at Indian history Mughal King Akbar brought the concept of multiculturalism to India, plus Indian ppl are very accepting its our culture to accept everyone and everytype. Ppl like Mahatama Gandhi who believed in non violence and truth, even Transgenders get their space in our society, we do have extremists and general issues but nobody cares much for them.
    I guess its more about the way you are brought up in a society, the social circle and need for family also has a big role to play in India, and offcourse religion.

    On the flip side we have seen enough riots between hindu and muslims just after independece to understand it helps no one just hurt families and feelings.

    Plus our govt. does not dictate or promote discrimination in any manner.

    There is an ISCKON in Helsinki (International society for krishna conciousness) near itamerenkatu, lot of Finns have given there lives to that service. Its a society of Hindu temples in India, they did not get space in helsinki approved from govt to build a temple, so they opened it in a private apartment, i feel ppl should visit there just to learn about diversity although they do not do much promotion in Finland.

  9. Seppo

    – “Another successful multicultural country was the Ottoman Empire until around the mid-nineteenth century.”

    Well, yes and no.

    The Ottoman society was strictcly divided according to religion. There were the Muslims, the Christian (Orthodox, mostly) and the Jews. Now the good thing was that different religions were actually tolerated, unlike in Western Europe at that time. Still, there was no doubt about which religion was the number one.

    Land ownership, taxation, public offices, the right to carry a gun etc. All this was regulated through religion so that only Muslims benefited and had rights. It is easy to understand why so many Bosnians and Albanians turned into Muslims. It is almost a wonder that not more people did that. I guess, in a way, the fact that not all Christians and Jews gave up their faith is a prove of some sort of tolerance for multiculturalism.

    But I would hardly call it a “succesful multicultural country”. And even less would the Christian nations, like the Serbs and Greeks, who actually lived in the Ottoman empire.

  10. Allan

    Ottomans were adhering to the old Roman principle of “divide and rule”. Another example of a “successful” multicultural empire that failed was the Austro-Hungarian (Hapsburg) empire. Which in part was competing with /conquering the Ottomans’ territory. The seeds of discord sown to the Balkans by the Ottomans caused in part the fall of the Hapsburgs and in our time Yugoslavia. Now it seems joining to the EU empire makes the pendulum swing to the other extreme.

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