Finland and the police should wake up to the menace of hate speech and hate crime

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Helsinki city councilperson Abdirahim Husu Hussein received a letter Wednesday with a death threat and a piece of rope tied as a noose. While it is clear why this happens, we should ask why it continues to happen and with such impunity.

Having lived in Finland for many years, one matter I learned at an early stage is that there is a strong racist undercurrent in Finnish society. This ever-toxic murmur of that undercurrent has turned today into a mix of blind rage and a sense of impunity.

Another death threat was sent to Helsinki city councilperson Abdirahim Husu Hussen Wednesday. The note reads: “ “N-word. Don’t mix in what Finnish politicians do. You heard of Martin Luther King. He was an n-word and look what happened to him. Greetings from the Ku Klux Klan.” Source: Facebook.

Do you need more hard proof? The sources of such hatred are more than clear since words have consequences.

The challenge is if we want to open ou eyes to such threats and actually do something about them.

One Finnish party that bases 90% of its political message on catering to the anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam vote bursted into the political scene with a vengeance in the 2011 parliamentary election. In a matter of four years, it saw the number of MPs rise from 5 to 39.

While there are many factors fo the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* in 2011 and during this decade, one matter is for certain: its anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam message has struck voter gold.

Too many of us, not Migrant Tales, played down the PS victory of 2011 and what it meant for the country. “The Perussuomalaiset* will implode soon,” was a common excuse you heard for not doing anything.

Even if it is clear that there is a connection between the rise of the PS and hostility towards migrants and minorities, the police, politicians, the media, and policy-makers share equal responsibility.

Finland has some of the best laws that promote social equality and ensure that everyone, irrespective of his or her background, is equal before the law. The problem, however, is that such laws are not enforced as they should.

If we are all equal before the law, why is it that in 2019 white Finnish women make 0.80 euros compared with a white Finnish male’s euro? Why do migrants make on average 0.50 euros, according to researcher Pekka Myrskylä?

The answer to that question is clear: The police, like society, don’t consider racism and discrimination a high priority. Moreover, convictions for racism and hate speech are too lenient, even a joke in some cases. A perpetrator can be slapped with symbolic fines totalling 60 euros.

Such fines, as PS MP Ano Tutiainen said earlier this year, are “a feather in one’s cap.”

Hussein’s death threat is just another example of how ineffective our society is in combating racism and hatred. If Finland does not wake up to the social ill, matters may speed out of control like they have in the United States and recently in neighboring Norway.

Racism and hate are like a rabid dog that some politicians walk to impress and lure their voters. They forget, however, that that dog knows no master and can bite back hard, very hard.

The far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. In the last parliamentary election, Blue Reform has wiped off the Finnish political map when they saw their numbers in parliament plummet from 18 MPs to none. 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.