Finland’s bigoted and perilous path

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Finland has become in a short time a country that has lost its way. The police service,  public officials like politicians, even ministers, who should know better, don’t. The most shameful matter that exposes these wretched times is that we’ve allowed xenophobia and populism to not only enter through the back door but permitted it to grow before our eyes.

This strange and poisonous fruit of far-right and right-wing populism feeds on our silence, indifference, and mixed statements. It deceives us into believing that we won’t be its next target after we’ve got rid of groups they scapegoat.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, could be further from the truth.

We are not only seeing right-wing populism and fascism in Finland raise their ugly faces and take root in this country but with the help of mainstream parties, politicians, and the media.

Populist nationalism, be if from the right or left, and xenophobia have always been strong in Finland but kept in check. That is not the case any longer.

A good example of the latter is the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, which now shares power with the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP).

The relationship that the PS has with the Center Party and NCP is in many cases disturbing. The PS gives its support to the massive cutbacks in social welfare and the Center Party and NCP allow the PS to pursue its anti-immigration policies in government.

It’s not only is a relationship of convenience but one that is clearly hostile to our ever-growing culturally diverse society since it aims to demote migrants and minorities in Finland from second- to third- and fourth-class citizens.

There are many sad examples of where institutions like the police service that should know better have failed but shown their hostility and prejudice towards migrants and minorities.

Näyttökuva 2016-2-26 kello 10.51.11
The hearsay, suspicion, and urban tales spread about asylum seekers and migrants in Finland is so thick that one blogger suggested that the next step would be using an anti-Dracula kit. Source: Saku Timonen and FB/The Vintage News.

A good example of the latter is an announcement by the Helsinki police that they have suspended their investigation into except for one case where alleged large-scale sexual harassment carried out by men “who appeared to be foreign-looking,” according to YLE News.

This story caused hysteria in Finland after New Year’s and the police went even as far as to suggest that there could be a connection with what happened in Cologne, Germany, when a string of sexual attacks were committed by “Arab or North African origin.”

Even if such attacks exposed our xenophobic anti-immigration side, it revealed as well how the police decide who is defined ethnically as a Finn.

The same thing  happened in March concerning the Tapanila rape case where the police said in a statement that the suspects of “foreign background” were apprehended.

Who is a person with “foreign background” and “who appeared to be foreign-looking?” Why does the police continue to spread these types of ethnic stereotypes? The answer is clear: Guess which group has ethnic entitlement?

Certainly if a suspect is at large and his ethnicity helps the police service to bring the person in custody then it’s understandable. In other cases, however, there is no reason to state the ethnic background of the person.

As we know, a person in Finland is considered a Finn if he or she has Finnish citizen. This is the official definition but the unofficial one gives us the real picture: Even if you have Finnish citizenship you aren’t a “real” Finn.

Another sign of these times is the Police University College of Finland so-called “study” on migrants that cost taxpayers 200,000 euros. The study was more an exercise on police attitudes and prejudices of our ever-growing cultural diversity than anything else.

And then we must ask why is there so much disinformation about migrants, asylum seekers and minorities these days?

One of the culprits is the PS, which intentionally spread disinformation, from the government.

I wouldn’t be surprised as well if the roots of what happened on New Year’s Day in Finland came from sources tied to or associated with the PS.

The PS have become so confident and comfortable with their prejudice and bigotry that they published a story in February alleging that what happened on New Year’s is being planned again at asylum reception center.

Nothing ever happened because it was all hearsay.

Shameful to say that the rumor was fabricated by a party in government but what is even more shameful is that nobody condemned the PS for spreading such rumors.

All of this is very “normal” in today’s very abnormal Finland.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.