Helsingin Sanomat’s late editorial response to the threat of political violence sowed by the PS

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Helsingin Sanomat finally published an editorial about the Pekka Kataja case and the threat of far-right violence to our political system. While the editorial was long overdue due to the importance of the topic, why did it take Finland’s largest daily a week to form an opinion on its editorial page?

The fact that a former member of Finland’s largest opposition party, the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, is an attempted murder suspect and a far-right activist raises a lot of questions and concerns.

While the editorial raised some critical points, one wonders why it took so long for Helsingin Sanomat to take a stand on its editorial page. Why is the editorial behind a paywall? Isn’t this a topic of national interest?

Isn’t the topic important in today’s context? Isn’t the rise of a radical right party with numerous bedfellows with the far-right, neo-Nazi-spirited groups like the Soldiers of Odin and Kansallismielisten liitoutuma as threat?

If Finland’s democratic institutions suffered in the future a blow like those under Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, would Helsingin Sanomat take a week to form an opinion?

There is a reason why the Finnish media and the political establishment too often drags its heels when it comes to Islamophobia and the spread of far-right ideology.

One factor is the lack of leadership and naivety of our media and politicians. They have been the fuel why parties like the PS have grown during the past decade.

The rise of a party that spreads racism wholesale against groups like Muslims spreads ethnonationslist jibberish, has ties with anti-democratic and far-right groups is a threat exists because it appeals to a certain group of voters.

While the Helsingin Sanomat editorial correctly states that some threats like racism, hatred as well as political violence threaten to close the door on future government talks, I would not be too sure.

Finland’s treatment of the PS and its racism and nationalism resembles a small village. We all know and trust each other because we are all white.

A good start to change matters is to have more minority representation on Helsingin Sanomat the editorial board. It is highly revealing that Finland’s largest-circulating daily has few if any minorities on its editorial board considering that about 16% of Helsinki residents speak another mother tongue than Finnish or Swedish.

Bedfellows Perussuomalaiset and the far-right: I’m surprised that you are still surprised

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

Playing dumb or dead to the threat of far-right groups is a political statement or reveals you are either lazy, naive, or white..

While it is a positive matter that the Finnish media is shedding light on two long-time bedfellows: the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and far-right groups, even so, the question we should ask is why now if this was common knowledge for a long time?

One reason could be our propensity to play dumb or silent to the growing threat of far-right groups.

Isn’t it shameful and a slap in the face to all of our noble social welfare advancements that the biggest opposition party, the PS, is a xenophobic radical-right party?

Who cares?

A lot of people in Finland who don’t want this country to be driven by xenophobia to the lap of a Finnish Viktor Orbán are rightfully worried.

Tero Ala-Tuuhonen, the attempted murder suspect who tried to kill Pekka Kataja, is posing with some far-right Kansallismielisten liitouma activists. The circled persons all have ties to the PS. Source: Twitter

Kansallismielisten liitouma was originally founded by the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right vigilante groups that the police and many politicians supported in the face of a record number of asylum seekers to Finland in 2015.

Yes, I am surprised that you may be surprised by this fact that the PS and far-right groups are bedfellows.

Those who claim that we should ignore the racist narrative of parties like the PS and their far-right buddies are leaving our country’s future to chance.

We cannot allow this to happen.

With your help we’ll stop it and nip it off the bud.

Now you see Riikka Purra, Ville Tavio and Sebastian Tynkkynen, now you don’t

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Tero Ala-Tuuhonen is not a nice guy. Indeed, it depends on your perspective. If you sympathize with Nazis and all the far-right BS, then he is your man.

Despite his background, there is a long list of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* politicians who like him. Is it the uniform he is wearing in the picture below, or is it his far-right rhetoric that resonates with Finland’s largest opposition party?

Ala-Tuuhonen reminiscing the good old Nazi days.
Ala-Tuuhonen states on his Facebook page that “all lives matter.” Is this a joke? Wearing an SS uniform and attempting with Teemu Torssonen to murder Pekka Kataja of the PS? Source: Facebook.
Source: Kskisuomalainen

You will find some surprises if you go through Ala-Tuuhonen’s Facebook friends. You will find a lot of PS politicians.

According to the Jyväskylä-based daily Keskisuomalainen, some of Ala-Tuuhonen’s Facebook friends include PS MP’s like Juha Mäenpää, Riikka Purra, Ville Tavio, Sebastian Tynkkynen and Ano Turtiainen, a former PS MP suspended indefinitely.

Ala-Tuuhonen’s Facebook friends changed on Sunday. You will no longer find PS vice president Purra and PS parliamentary group leader Tavio and MP Tynkkynen on the attempted murder suspect’s list of friends.

No worries, I found two other PS MPs. Sakari Puisto and Veijo Niemi, as well as many PS municipal politicians and supporters.

PS MP Petri Huru and his ties with a far-right attempted murder suspect

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Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Petri Huru states in his Twitter account that his goal is to keep Finns safe. He is a chief fireman and a practical nurse. Noble professions but can trust Huru’s judgement?

A question: What are you, MP Huru, doing smiling in a picture below with far-right activist Tero Ala-Tuuhonden? Isn’t he the person who was arrested by the police on Friday for attempted murder?

PS MP Huru: You have poor judgment and I would never trust you with my life. You are also a big fan of PS MEP Laura Huhtasaari. Source: Twitter

Even if you want to forget, Ala-Tuuhonen is the far-right Kansallismielisten liittouma chairperson who hangs around with neo-Nazis and people of your party, like you. He even recently wrote that a culture war has begun in Finland.

Remember, who is Pekka Kataja? Of course, you do. He is the PS campaign manager whom Ala-Tuuhonen and Teemu Torssonen, a far-right politician that your party sacked 2019, brutally attacked.

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Finland is too white to solve its issues with racism. There must be change.

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After the bombshell news that one of the suspects arrested Friday who brutally attacked Pekka Kataja of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) in July, the new chairperson of the Center Party, Annika Saarikko, said on Ykkösaamu Saturday that she could form a government with the PS.

In light of the PS’ links with far-right groups, Saarikko’s response was inopportune and ill-timed.

Center Party chairperson Annika Saarikko on Yle’s Ykkösaamu.

In a very white country like Finland, where few minorities wield power, her affirmation is not surprising. It reinforced how white power structures are that there is little political will to challenge them.

Nothing or very little will change as long as people of color and other minorities are kept powerless on short leashes.

Politicians like Saarikko may feel it is ok for several reasons to form a government with a party that is openly hostile to Muslims and ultraconservative. She can see matters this way because she is white. The PS is not a threat to her whiteness per se.

If we look at the rise of the PS since the 2011 parliamentary election, disgrunted and racist white Finns have found in the PS a voice that is anti-immigration, anti-EU and anti-establishment. Even if racism, sexism, and fascism have risen their heads, do politicians like Saarikko naively believe that consensus will work matters out?

As a person who grew up in the United States and who has, as a native Argentinean, followed and lived through the recent history of Latin America marred by violence, injustice, and poverty, it is not difficult to understand why racism and the PS live another day.

This is the wrong approach. Defend your institutions tooth and nail. Source: Reddit.

I worte in January that those who believe in Hollywood endings to racism are white people who don’t experience racism and speak on behalf of those that do.

There will not be a Hollywood ending to the racism problem in this country but one that will lead to a Hungarian ending.

As the Kataja case proves that violence and fascism are already here and taking root. It is our call to put an end to them.

Going to bed with the PS will not do it.

Case Pekka Kataja of the PS: I’m surprised that you are surprised

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

It is revealing to read comments from the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party about Friday’s bombshell news: the police detained a former PS politician and a far-right Nazi-spirited activist on suspected attempted murder charges against Pakka Kataja.

Starting from PS chairperson Jussi Halla-aho, who was convicted in 2012 for ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion, was quoted as saying in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat: “It’s difficult even to believe one’s own eyes when reading this news [about the arrest of the suspects].”

Read the full story (in Finnish) here.

And the amazement continues. PS Central Finland region head Jyrki Niittymaa also expresses dismay.

“It is surprising if these [suspects] are guilty [for brutally attacking Kataja], he said.

Citing tabloid Iltalehti, PS-run Suomen Uutiset publishes the name of one of the suspects, Teemu Torssonen, who was sacked by the party in 2019.

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Pekka Kataja’s attackers are two far-right activists. Have the Finnish authorities awoken to the threat of such groups?

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

In April, I had the opportunity to interview Yaron Nadbornik, the president of the Jewish Community of Helsinki. One of the matters that struck me of the interview was that in 2018-2019 the authorities started to recognize anti-Semitism as a problem.

Today the police took into custody two far-right activists charged for the attempted murder of Pekka Kataja, a Perussuomnalaiset (PS) councilor of Jämsänkoski, who was brutally attacked by two suspects.

Teemu Torssonen (left) is a municipal politician from Jyväskylä, who was sacked from the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party last year. Tero Ala-Tuuhonen has a murkier far-right record with ties to far-right groups like Kansallismielisten liittouma, of which he is the chairperson, Soldiers of Odin, neo-Nazi Kohti vapautta!, among others.
PS MP Mauri Peltokangas is one of many politicians of the same party that participates in events organized by the far right. Note the Kansallismielisten liittouma logo on the lower left of the snapshot above. The group’s chairperson Ala-Tuuhonen was detained today on suspected attempted murder charges.

Even if Kataja suspected one of these two as a “person of Arabic origin,” he later changed his story and blamed the attackers for being members of the far-right.

While it is a good matter that Kataja’s attackers were apprehended by the police, it does raise a lot of questions about the rise of the far-right, Islamophobia, and racism and what the authorities are doing to counter these types of threats to our society.

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Another study that sheds light in Finland on disadvantaged migrants and their children

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A study by Ognjen Obućina and Ilari Ilmakunnas and cited by Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat concluded the following: poverty and housing overcrowding was more prevalent among immigrant children compared with white Finnish children.

The study showed that 60% of migrant children had experienced poverty for at least a year during the first five years of their lives. Moreover, 45% of the latter group experienced overcrowing. The corresponding figure for white Finnish children was 25%.

Ilmakunnas was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat that renting is one factor that explains overcrowding. “Rents have gone up especially in [urban] growth centers,” he said.

While these types of studies are essential and shed light on our ever-growing culturally diverse communities, the problem is that they lack political action and will.

One factor that has dampened such political will is that Finland has since the 2011 parliamentary election a hostile and racist party, the Perussuomalaiset (PS).* Their presence and the popularity of their anti-immigration message and their success in the elections is enough to discourage many.

One of Trump’s biggest fans in Finland are Jussi Halla-aho and the PS. In the tweet above, he states that he digs Trump and believes that the US president is the best thing that happened to the United States and the Western World. Source: Twitter.

Statistics Finland researcher Pekka Myrskylä is one of many who has shown how disadvantaged migrant groups in this country. In 2014, he wrote. “Generous social welfare benefits to migrants appear to be an urban legend. Since migrants make a quarter less than natives, welfare benefits are smaller since they hinge on earnings-related subsidies.”

I wonder how many have read Pasi Suakkonen’s study, Maahanmuuttajen kotoutuminen Helsingissä (2016)? The study points out that migrants make annually on average nationally 27.3% less (21,479 euros versus 29,550 euros by Finns), and in Helsinki 38.5% less (22,286 euros versus 36,239 euros) than Finns.

Finland has never experienced a Black Lives Matter social movement like in the United States. But if we continue to drag our heels and do little to make migrants and minorities feel at home and enjoy the same rights as white Finns, it will only be a matter of time when such a movement will appear.