Finland’s deep denial of racism coupled with exceptionalism make it susceptible to right-wing populism and fascism

by , under Enrique Tessieri

“One the most infuriating decisions that I have seen lately was taken by the Helsinki District Court. The judges claimed in this particular decision that the poor Iraqi woman  – who was harassed and threatened  by a Sheikh – should have made a complaint to the local police station in her country against her own tribe’s decision regarding honor crimes. (And thus her asylum application was rejected).”


If the latter claim above is true, it explains and reveals why Helsinki District Court judges agree with most of the decisions by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The fact that only a minor amount of decisions by Migri are rejected by the district courts speaks volumes about the state of our country and how decisions are made. 

Ethnocentrism? Finnish exceptionalism? Xenophobia? Bigotry? Racism? Ignorance? Fear?

When a society or the courts agree overwhelming on decisions by another public entity or when the police claim that they don’t ethnically profile anyone we know that something isn’t right.

The district court’s track record is another factor that makes us doubt their integrity. Remember in 2013 when MTV revealed an internal report by the Helsinki District Court that showed judges used derogatory labels for blacks (n-word), Russians, Jews and gays as well as sexually harassed women at parties?

On top of this, the Helsinki District Court claims that such unprofessional behavior didn’t influence the decision of judges.

Who should we believe?

Great news for us, bad news for the Perussuomalaiset, which have seen their poll standing plummet for a number of months. Source: YLE.

It is a fact we are humans and humans, who work in institutions like Migri, district courts, police service and other public services make mistakes. To claim that they never or rarely make poor or faulty decisions raises some questions.

Add to the latter the fact that Migri and the district courts are making decisions about people from other cultures they know little of and more questions arise about their near-perfect track record.

At best, the present situation proves that we have an ineffective and selective checks and balance system in Finland that is tilted heavily against asylum seekers and that turns a blind eye to Migri and the district courts.

But what can you expect in today’s Finland?

The government doesn’t care about asylum seekers that came here. All they want is to get them to leave even at their own peril. That is why they are doing everything possible, and giving their blind-eye blessings to Migri, district courts, and asylum reception centers, to ensure that these people leave.

When Green League MP Ozan Yanar spoke out against forced deportations in parliament and the demonstrators at the Helsinki Railway Square, you could hear MPs around him parroting “illegal migrants,” or the exact claim made by far-right groups like Suomi ensin.

What we saw in parliament by other MPs as Yanar spoke reveals how distorted and distanced from the facts some MPs are.

For their information, most of the demonstrators at the Helsinki Railway Square are not undocumented migrants.

The government and Interior Minister Paula Risikko’s office doesn’t want officials to use the term “undocumented” but “illegal” to refer to people who have three rejections for asylum. This says a lot about the hostility of the government towards asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse community.

All of this reveals one fact: Finland lives in deep denial about its own racism. This is dangerous because our country, as we saw in April 2011 with the victory of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, is susceptible to populism and fascism.

While some will deny the latter, the emergence of the PS as one of the biggest parties in Finland during this decade is a good example of the country’s vulnerability to overt racism and fear of losing white Finnish privilege.

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.”