By Enrique Tessieri
Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Tom Packalén expresses concern on an Uusi Suomi blog about the recent hate crimes in Lieksa that have hit the national news. The former policeman appears to be excited by an article he read in Helsingin Sanomat quoting Muqtar Moalin Nuurin, head of the Somalian association of Lieksa, who said that Somalians are to blame as well for the tense situation in Lieksa.
While it is a positive matter that a PS MP wants to meet a Somalian leader from troubled Lieksa to discuss how to defuse the situation in that city, it is totally a different story whether Packalén understands the problem.
Packalén may express good intentions, but the blog entry on Uusi Suomi shows the problem that the PS has to to come to terms with racism in Finland: They are part of the problem.
The PS MP from Helsinki writes: “The core of the problem in Lieksa is a faulty immigration policy (an old PS claim why racism occurs in Finland). Too many people, from a very different culture in a small area has caused problems.”
Certainly it is a positive matter that a representative of a party like the PS, made up of anti-immigration MPs like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari, Teuvo Hakkarainen and others, takes a proactive stance and states at least publicly that he wants to defuse tensions in Lieksa between refugees and the local inhabitants.
Packalén said that he plans to invite Nuurin to Helsinki to talk about the situation. If the PS MP and the Somalian representative can find ways of creating better ethnic relations in Lieksa, it is welcome news.
However, no matter how noble Packalén’s intentions are, what concrete steps can be taken to improve the situation in Lieksa? Can racism go away at the click of a finger? If racism were such an easy matter to smother, Finland’s attitude towards Russians and Russia would have vanished decades ago.
Are about 200 refugees, accounting for about 2% of the population of Lieksa, a threat to the population? These refugees, who are mostly from Somalia, have brought employment and economic benefits to a community.
It is ludicrous that since things are bad economically in Lieksa that gives some inhabitants a carte blanche to attack refugees.
Am I confident that Packalén will find a solution to the problem in Lieksa? No.
Is it a positive step by the PS to come to terms with their racism? Yes, maybe, but nothing will change. The party is ideologically too heterogeneous.
Is it a further thumbs down to the extremist anti-immigration wing of the PS? Yes.
Is it possibly a stunt to show the Finnish public a more credible face of a party that has been identified by its strong anti-immigration and racist stances? Possibly.