Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party has been (surprise, surprise) on the racist rampage against migrants and minorities in the past two weeks. The first one was lodged on July 15 by PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen, who suggested that Muslims should be kicked out of Finland, followed by comments by Matias Turkkila (17.7), PS Youth leader Sebastian Tynkkynen, who parrots Hakkarainen’s call on July 19.
It doesn’t end here, however. On July 21, a day before the fifth anniversary of 22/7, when Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway in cold blood, PS Youth put out a statement suggesting that punishable offenses like ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion should be stricken off the penal code.
In other words, the PS Youth and Tynkkynen want to legalize hate speech.
While spreading racism and nativist nationalism are the clear trademarks of the PS, this populist party isn’t just any party making such bigoted remarks. The PS is in government and shares power with the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP).
Read full story here.
Even if opposition parties have spoken out against such racist remarks, the silence of the Center Party and NCP has some scratching their heads. This changed on Monday, when NCP MP Ben Zyskowickz ( note: not by the head of the party, Petteri Orpo) finally reacts in tabloid Ilta-Sanomat to what Tynkkynen said.
“The question is for how long the Perussuomalaiset party, which is a member of the government and has agreed to oppose racism [while in government], continuously offers the opportunity to political figures who incite people’s views against Islam and who are guilty of outright racism,” Zyskowickz said.
In Finland, where such leadership is lacking and is to blame for the stellar rise of an anti-immigration party like the PS and ever-public racism and bigotry, it’s encouraging that somebody like Zyscowickz reacts even if the NCP Youth made a similar suggestion in 2013 about legalizing hate speech.
One of the matters we have noticed in Finland are the countless we-have-zero-tolerance-for-racism proclamations by all political parties. This is fine but we need to go much further and enact laws that have teeth and will ensure that nobody in Finland, irrespective of his or her background, becomes a target of racism and bigotry as today.
The European Network Against Racism (ENAR), a Brussels-based NGO, published a shadow report on Afrophobia earlier this year. It made the following recommendations that could improve the plight of migrants and minorities in this country:
- Establish an equality body responsible for dealing with discrimination cases within employment.
- Greater promotion of cultural diversity at schools is needed to better reflect Finland’s diversity in the 21st century.
- A plan needs to be developed and implemented to increase the ethnic diversity of the workforce in the public sector in particular within the non-discrimination Ombudsman’s office and the police service.
- Finnish Law should integrate a direct provision for hate crimes to ensure that hate crimes are adequately recognized and punished as such.
- Government agencies and NGOs must improve their monitoring of discrimination in all areas, especially employment.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”