Remember the picture of a 10-year-old Muslim girl that went viral on the Internet on December 19? We still have not heard from the parents of the terrible picture of the girl below. What about if the story is true and that racism was the spark that caused the incident?
While we don’t know why, the police and the principal of the Juvanpuisto school in Espoo may consider what happened “not racist” because of the age of the children. If this is the case, they know that children learn their racism from their parents and their friends. One case in Mikkeli a few years ago shows how cruel children are when it comes to racist bullying and harassment.
If the school wants to resolve what happened behind closed doors, it is its right. However, hiding what happened from the public eye is wrong and will only permit these types of incidents to happen – as they do – again.
Here is the question: What about if the four children suspects who attacked the girl did try to rip off her hijab and insulted her for wearing one? What about if it was not the first time that the girl experienced racist bullying at school? What does it say about the school and how it counters this type of bullying?
The police and school deny what happened to the girl had to do with racism. There were even reports in the media that the wounds that the girl suffered weren’t diagnosed as serious after taken to the hospital.
Certainly, physical wounds are one matter but the psychological wounds from what happened will most likely affect the girl for the rest of her life.
If racism was the culprit, and if the police and the school principal brushed the incident under the carpet by playing down what happened, it reveals worrisome issues about our society and about those that protect and educate us into becoming members of society.
Does what happened to the little girl expose our deep denial of racism never mind of hate crime? If so, we must do better and change the present situation.
Moreover, that the parents of the girl are in the difficult position of explaining what really happened to their daughter shows another problem: Finland has inadequate tools to fight racism and hate crime unless you want to hear the usual empty sound bites about how “equal and against racism we are.”
The role of the media in what happened is, in my opinion, another blow to its credibility in the eyes of migrants, minorities and our ever-growing culturally diverse community. The media’s job is to be critical. It cannot and should not be an extension of the police department’s press office.
The text in the picture above states: “What do they teach [children] at Finnish homes? That Muslims are terrorists? The little girl [in the picture above] is spending a normal day at school when four boys [classmates] tried to rip off her hijab from her head and kicked her unconscious. We are not talking now about a migrant but about a victim. @iltalehti [tabloid] I want you to write out loud that racism must stop once for all, this girl is an angel!”