Exposing Finnish white privilege #66: Abdirahim Husu Hussein and dealing with racist passengers in a racist environment

by , under Enrique Tessieri


Helsinki City Councilperson Abdirahim Husu Hussein has been in the eye of a storm over a passenger who harassed him in a racist manner and who he was planning to leave the car at a bus stop but took the person to his final destination.

Hussein posted on Facebook on Sunday that he left the passenger by a bus stop in the freeway but all of this didn’t happen on the day he claimed.

“Only last week,” he said, “a passenger insulted me in a racist manner. I should have asked him to get out of the car, but I didn’t.”

Hussein has filed charges against the passenger who insulted him in a racist manner a week ago.

Even so, and for this mistake, the Helsinki city councilperson has been lynched by social media and print media, which has branded him “a liar.”

That’s not all. The media has put Hussein under scrutiny. One article questioned the veracity of a story that happened a long time ago to him when he woke up in a hospital after being hit with a baseball bat.

The media is not only attempting to take away his credibility but to break and destroy him as a person. The Finnish media uses a bazooka to kill an ant.

Finnish white privilege #66

Racist attacks and near-constant microaggressions and racist remarks against migrant and especially black taxi drivers are a sad fact. Hussein knows this too well.

A Helsingin Sanomat article wrote about the near-constant racist abuse suffered by a Ghanian taxi driver, and most recently, about a Somali taxi driver. There is also the case of a Somali driver who was assaulted. Etonians, who are white, suffer racist abuse from some passengers, too.

But what does Taksi Helsinki say about these cases and the fact that their visible migrant drivers get harassed in a racist manner by passengers?

No media has yet asked the company’s CEO, Jari Kantonen, if it has guidelines for those that drive for them in case a passenger starts to insult them in a racist manner.

Since Friday, I have without luck attempted to get in touch with the Taksi Helsinki CEO. He has not returned my calls.

“There are no such guidelines or training [how to deal with a racist passenger] offered by the [Taksi Helsinki] company,” said Hussein.

Gathering by the reaction of the media, members of his Social Democratic Party (SDP), and public opinion, there is one matter that stands out: The hatred of some white Finns of black people, especially outspoken ones like Hussein.

While I am certain that foreign taxi drivers, especially black drivers, are targets of racist abuse, there is no discussion going on in the media now about such a problem and how taxi companies guarantee their employees safe working spaces.

Even parties like the Social Democrats, of which Hussein is a member, appear to worry more about their poll standings than the rise of racism in Finland and of a racist party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS).* The party’s image is paramount now for the SDP.

The latest opinion poll published by Yle last week showed that support for the SDP had sunk by 1.7 percentage points to 13.9%, with the PS gaining 2.1 percentage points to lead the polls with 23%.

wrote in May about the hypocrisy and double standards of the Finnish media when it came to another SDP politician, MP Hussein al-Taee. The SDP MP’s and Hussein’s cases expose the dark side, a blind spot of our collective denial of racism in our society and how we treat people of color.

While Hussein has apologized for what happened, it seems that many want blood since he has been outspoken against racism in Finnish society and in parties like the PS.

Many may see this as an opportunity to climb back into their shells and reassure themselves that racism is not a problem in Finland.

Believe me, it is. And Hussein’s case proves it beyond any doubt.

Ali Jahangiri, Hussein’s radio host partner, puts what happened into perspective by tweeting: “#husugate is a good example of the power structures [in our society]. When a member of the minority makes a mistake, he ends up losing all his credibility. Then again, a person [Jussi Halla-aho] in power who dreams of killing homosexuals ends up becoming the head of his party.”

Despite what happened, anti-racism activism will not disappear in Finland but get stronger.

See also:

*A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.