Finland’s blind spot of racism and the incitement of violence against migrants and minorities

by , under Enrique Tessieri

July was a busy month for hate speech with the usual bunch of politicians from a particular party hurling insults at migrants and minorities.  If we look at the pyramid of hate below, we can see politicians like Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Teuvo Hakkarainen and PS youth leader Sebastian Tynkkynen venturing with their comments to the bias-motivated-violence phase, which openly incites violence against migrants and minorities. 

“We’ve got to stop pussyfooting,” Hakkarainen wrote on his Facebook wall in mid-July after the Nice killings. “Muslims out of this country! Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims. We shouldn’t accept Muslims from the Middle East and Africa to our country.”

Even if fearmongering, demagoguery, xenophobia, pandering and raw hatred are the norm in today’s Finland against migrants, it is a a slippery slope were already on. The faster we slide down that slope the more hateful our attacks become.

Näyttökuva 2016-8-8 kello 4.09.24
Source: Newspaper Rock

A recent example of an anti-immigration rally in East Helsinki during the weekend, a French-speaking person threatens on a YouTube video that Muslims “should be banned from any civilized society.”

He continues: “I ask the Finnish people to rise up, do not let Islamization grow. Just stand up, be a man, you have proved it before and prove it again. Now fight for your freedom…”

Imagine if a Muslim said the same hateful things. Imagine what a stir that would cause if we changed two words in that statement.

“I ask Muslims to rise up, do not allow Western culture to grow. Just stand up…”

Certainly a Muslim, never mind any minority, cannot speak in the same violent way as the Frenchman on the video because that person does not have white privilege.

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Too many Finnish politicians like President Mauno Koivisto (1982-94), Finland’s last cold war head of state, play down racism. The home of migrants in Tampere were attacked in 1989 but the only thing Koivisto could state was, “Somebody has thrown a bottle [Molotov cocktail at a migrant’s home] , but it was only one person [who carried out this act].”

The racist and bigoted behavior of politicians of parties like the PS has been going on for a very long time in Finland.

Check out the impunity and denial of racism of  Finnish politicians in 1989 here.

One of the video clips of the 1989 TV program is of the late Rural Party MP Sulo Aittoniemi (1936-2016), who, together with Helsinki mayor Raimo Illaskivi, were known for their xenophobic views of migrants and minorities.

A recent article about Aittoniemi’s death in Helsingin Sanomat didn’t care to mention his hostile views of refugees and of cultural diversity.

If we’re not careful in this country, the media will continue to paint such political characters as “national heroes” to fit their prejudices, which exposes their blind spot on racism.

Below are some links to stories that migrants and minorities were targets of PS hostility in July: 

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. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”