A letter to Finland about hate crime*

by , under A Pakistani family

Dear Finland, 

Our family suffered a terrible crime on February 23 in Vantaa when three youths approached my husband from Pakistan at night and asked for a cigarette. My husband is a kind and loving person. If you ask him for a cigarette, he’ll give you two. But there was a problem: The three youths that asked for cigarettes looked like minors.

My husband asked for identification papers. One of them responded that he was 19.

On turning around, and after taking a few steps, my husband was violently attacked with a knife, ax, and a pointed object. Without going into detail, it took four hours to remove my husband’s stitches from over 20 wounds. He also has a double skull fracture and has been on the operating table a number of times.

Read the full story here.

My husband wants to do everything possible so that nobody will fall victim to such a vile crime. He and I are convinced that what happened was a hate crime. We are Muslims and Pakistanis, visible minorities in Finland. Why would anyone go to such an extent to cause such bodily harm if ethnic background did not play a role?

Moreover, the crime that happened to my husband is extremely rare in Finland.

If this isn’t a hate crime, we have to ask why.  Are the laws that determine a hate crime good enough and do they protect migrants like me from such attacks in the future? We must not shrink in the face of such crimes. Do the authorities fear that Finland’s image will suffer as a result of what happened and if it were a hate crime?

The police have not yet told us the real cause of the crime.

The police may conclude that racism was not a factor in this crime but what kind of a message does it send future attackers and future victims? It is essential that the suspects get the maximum sentence for what they did so that future criminals will think twice.

It goes without saying that the incident has shaken our confidence in Finland as a country where everyone can live in peace and not fear for his or her safety.

Another matter that saddens us is that nobody appears to care what happened to my family. Major newspapers like Helsingin Sanomat, YLE and others printed without any criticism the police’s explanation that what happened wasn’t motivated by racism.

Also, no politician has been outraged in the media by what happened and its impact on Muslim and migrant communities in Finland. All we have heard is silence.

It is surprising that the victim has to prove that what happened was a hate crime.

Respectfully yours,

A Pakistani family

Read the letter in Finnish here

* A hate crime is as an attack on an individual’s identity. Someone’s identity is the characteristics that make up who they are, for example, their nationality, ethnic group or race, language, sexual orientation, religion or disability. For more information go here