An about-turn by the PS on racism?

by , under All categories, Enrique

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.

  1. Mark

    – “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.”

    Almost certainly true. But no matter the majority feeling inside PS towards immigration, at some point, if they continue to develop their support as a party, they will have to do more than churn out negative rhetoric.

    If those 200 Somalians are concentrated in a few areas of town, that reality of being 2% of the population may appear to be more like 50%. Not only that, but with different forms of dress and appearance, they are of course more ‘visible’, so that increases their sense of presence for natives. And for it to happen in such a short time, of just a decade, adds to the sense of disenfranchisement. And again, if it happens in poor areas of the town, the feeling is that already scarce resources are being denied to natives, though this is completely a red herring, as minimum sustenance levels are set for all Finns.

    For many people living in some parts of Finland, to suddenly become a multicultural community overnight, without having had any say in it, and without proper integration into the community – well, it is a recipe for tension, no getting away from it.

    Packalén should likewise realise that for Somalians coming to Finland, the idea of leaving them ‘stranded’ one family per town or village is absolutely not a solution, even if it were to make Finns feel they weren’t being taken over.

    It isolates the family, does nothing to help them integrate, and spreads already thin resources (integration courses/support) to the point of ineffectualness. It IS better to have pockets of immigrant populations, allowing them to have strong communities, because these communities and the community representatives that emerge in them clearly go a long way to improving integration and to diffusing tensions when they happen.

    He’s right to say that too many people from a different culture in one area causes problems, he’d be wrong to think that there is any better alternative. At least, I haven’t heard of one to date. Cue the moronic replies about sending them home…

  2. Jonas

    One of the Basic Finn parliament members Olli Immonen (I’ve never heard of him before) has told the newspaper Kaleva that the minority ombudsman office should be closed down, on the grounds that the minority ombudsman has attempted to curb freedom of expression. Presumably, he is thinking of times when the minority ombudsman has acted against hate speech, which one assumes he finds entirely acceptable.

    Also, minority ombudsman Eva Biaudet’s response:

    • Enrique

      Hi Jonas, thank you for the link, which I read with surprise this morning. This is further proof of what the PS is in general and specifically a group within that right-wing populist party. They are not only a danger to themselves, but to this nation.