After the Oulu sexual assault cases came to light at the end of November and rapidly spiralled out of control in the media, is one sad example of Finland’s Islamophobia problem. Not only are politicians from parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* trying to reap the political benefits, but the media, and police, too.
All of those groups that participated in the social media lynch mob got something out of it like the PS, which almost won the parliamentary elections of April,
With the Oulu sexual assault cases behind us and with eight people of color sentenced to prison, a question arises: What role did the media, politicians, and Oulu police have in fueling the hysteria?
Yle alone reported 77 stories on the topic, 13 on one day, about the sexual assault cases during November 27-February 13. During that period under review, the Oulu police published 13 statements on the topic.
Writes Päivi Happonen of Yle who took the unprecedented step of questioning in a blog the Oulu police’s over-enthusiastic communications policy of the sexual assault cases.
She writes: “So what bad did [Oulu police’s communication] inflict? A lot. Many have the impression that Oulu became the crime capital of Finland, where asylum seekers rape all the children they can.”
Happonen, whom the Oulu police attacked in a tweet for her brave words was proven right by her employer despite police objections.
One may rightfully ask if all the hysteria was worth it considering that out of an estimated 20 suspects eight ended up with prison terms. Is this how the Finnish media and public reacts when white Finns sexually abuse children?
Apparently not. A story about a pedophile ring accused of sexually abusing 6-15-year-old boys lasted only a week in the news with seven stories published by Yle.
One important rule that journalists learn is that words are a powerful weapon. Since that is the case, it means that we have to be fair in our reporting. No need to kill an ant with a bazooka.
Imagine as well the harm that the Oulu police, the media and especially politicians of the PS and National Coalition Party inflicted on Finland’s migrant and especially the Muslim community.
According to Imam Abdul Mannan of Oulu, Muslims in that city did not feel safe and tried to avoid going to the city center due to the hostile environment.
When I asked a reporter of the Oulu-based Kaleva if unbalanced reporting was an issue, he shrugged off my comment by stating that this is what always happens.
Always happens? Did the reporter read Happonen’s column? Was he too scared to question the lynch-mob mode of many of his colleagues and the media they worked for?
Tabloids like Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat, have a long history of publishing racist stories that label and question other people’s right to be treated fairly and with dignity. A recent example of this type of reporting is Mika Koskinen, who not only editorializes his stories but shows his Islamophobic worldview and hatred of asylum seekers.
Koskinen was one of the most enthusiastic journalists in January to label wholesale all Muslims and asylum seekers as a danger to society.
In a video interview, he claimed in mid-January that Finland was naive in allowing over 30,000 asylum seekers in 2015 because there is evidence that suggests that such people are prone to commit rape crimes.
Despite Koskinen’s claim, he never cited any reliable evidence that backed his claims.
In the latest tirade against Muslims and people of color in Finland, Koskinen took on board the PS conspiracy theories about the two suspects involved this weekend two suspects that shot at police and which led to their arrest on Monday.
In the first story, Koskinen misleads readers by putting words in Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo’s mouth and then interviews Islamophobe PS MP Riikka Purra, who attacks Ohisalo’s refugee policy as “ultra-liberal” and “detached from reality.”
The only problem with Koskinen’s two stories is that Ohisalo’s words were his personal interpretation of what the minister said . The only thing that Ohisalo said was that it is a human right to seek asylum backed by international agreements signed by Finland.
Koskinen’s wanted to show in the stories as well that Ohisalo was not up to the job to guarantee people’s safety in the face of the two suspects who were then on the run and speculated by PS conspiracy theorists to be Muslims or asylum seekers.
Both of the suspects were Swedish nationals who spoke Finnish.
Saku Timonen writes (in Finnish) about Koskinen’s opinionated reporting in this column.
* The far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. In the last parliamentary election, Blue Reform has wiped off the Finnish political map when they saw their numbers in parliament plummet from 18 MPs to none. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.