Just like Abdul, the Iraqi asylum seeker who is married to a Finnish woman expecting their child in September, Ibrahim* is the latest case of another asylum seeker denied a Finnish residence permit by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The Iraqi asylum and his Finnish wife Inna have a five-month-old child.
It took a year of waiting for Ibrahim to get his residence permit rejected in January by Migri when his wife applied for family reunification.
“We have appealed to the administrative court the rejection which is unfair,” said Ibrahim’s wife Inna*.
Other legal matters concerning Ibrahim’s residence have fueled uncertainty for the family. One of these, are seven appeals to overturn Ibrahim’s deportation orders from Finland after being rejected twice for asylum by Migri.
Migri has the power to ask you anything they even if their questions are humiliating like, question #48, “You[r] spouse is pregnant. Who is the father of the child?” What about this one, question #41: “Will your spouse turn into a Muslim” or question #40, “How do you feel about your spouse’s religion?”
Inna stated that she worries and fears near-constantly that the Finnish police may come any day and deport her husband back to Iraq.
“We live on the fifth floor,” she said, “sometimes when I hear the elevator or people knocking at our door, I fear that it may be the police that has come to deport my husband. We thought it would be a good idea if Ibrahim would attend swimming classes with our newborn but we decided against it because of fears that the police may apprehend and deport him.”
Inna and Ibrahim knew each other via the Internet before they met in person in June 2016, a month before the asylum seeker got his first rejection from Migri. They married six months later in December and had their first child in December of last year.
Just like Abdul, who went abroad during his asylum process, Inna believes that Ibrahim’s decision to leave Finland and move to France when he sought asylum is at the heart of Migri’s rejections. As Finland’s asylum policy got stricter and fewer asylum seeker would get residence, thousands of them left Finland to other countries like Sweden and Germany.
“My husband told the French authorities that he was coming to France because he was married to an Iraqi with a child,” she said. “Due to this story, which my husband made up because he was living a very difficult moment of uncertainty in his life in Finland, Migri has made life impossible for him and us. They don’t believe his story.”
Inna said that Migri’s suspicion is so strong that they have asked them if their marriage was arranged to help Ibrahim get a residence permit.” (See question #38 above: “Did you get married that you would get a Finnish residence permit?”)
“They even have asked me if I will convert to Islam, which I have, and other questions like how does Islam appear in our daily lives,” she continued. “Migri rejected our family reunification application because they argued that the child could grow up without a father.”
Inna said that she has had no choice with her husband but to answer Migri’s questions even if they are humiliating, pry into their privacy and daily lives.
Inna’s view of Finnish society has changed after she got married to Ibrahim and after became a Muslim in 2016.
“When we speak of Finland as a country that upholds the rule of law,” she continued, “it only applies to white Finnish married couples and for those who have Finnish lifestyles. It doesn’t apply to people who are of different religious, national and racial backgrounds.”
Inna said that she was never discriminated and mistreated before she became a Muslim who wears a veil, and who has a Finnish surname.
“I have been harassed in public and placed in the most awkward situations due to my veil and surname,” she said. “Some even ask me where I learned to speak Finnish so well even if I have lived in this country all my life.”
* The names were changed to protect their identity since the huband is still an asylum seeker.