Finnish ministry of interior survey about our “polarized debate” on asylum seekers reveals the government’s prejudices and failures

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A new study published Tuesday by the interior ministry and carried out by Vaasa University raises some disturbing questions. What does the survey address and what does it reveal?

One of the many claims of the survey is that those surveyed want a more dispassionate public debate about asylum policies.

An interior ministry statement reads: “Finns would like to be able to discuss asylum policy without the fear of being stigmatized; the discourse should be relevant and fact-based. The issues that were highlighted in the discourse on asylum policy were social polarization, promotion of integration activities during the asylum seeking process and the impact of the asylum seeker situation on security.”

Other findings of the survey reveal already known tough public views about asylum seekers. For example, 82% of the respondents felt that it should be made perfectly clear to those asylum seekers that get a residence are obliged to follow our social rules  and that language courses should be emphasized (87%).

The survey doesn’t tell us what those “rules” are for the simple fact they most likely don’t know either.

Read the full statement here.

Other findings of the survey published in Helsingin Sanomat include: 83% responded that if an asylum seeker lies in the the interview process to get asylum it should affect directly his or her chances of getting a residence permit; 78% felt that the police should forcibly deport those who get rejected for asylum if they do not leave the country.

Other matters that the survey showed was that asylum seekers cause social conflicts (59%), increase crime (57%) and the threat of terrorism (64%).

One of the most disturbing matters of the survey is that it shows Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s and President Sauli Niinistö’s view of the ongoing debate on asylum seekers. What the government and president incorrectly believe is that the debate is being carried out by two extremes, for and against. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moreover, who is responsible for fear-mongering and labeling asylum seekers? It’s clear that it is the government and specifically the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, whose supporters want tougher immigration laws. Most recently, PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen and other members of the anti-immigration party were sentenced for hate speech.

In my opinion, the survey doesn’t only show the attitudes of those Finns surveyed in a remote part of Finland about asylum policies but the government’s, and especially Interior Minister Paula Risikko’s prejudices and failure in tackling fears and providing us with those “important facts” about asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse society.

On a European level we can cite the same issues concerning hate speech, hate crime and racism. Denial and lack of leadership. Photo: European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

And another matter that worries me about the motives of the survey is that most likely most if not all of the respondents are white Finns. This reinforces the fact that the ongoing debate about asylum seekers isn’t a debate between extremes (sic!) but a quaint discussion between white people.

But what can you expect from a government that believes in its own prejudices and wants us to live in the same bubble about asylum seekers and migrants to follow through on its inhumane asylum policies?

If anything, the survey reveals the government’s prejudices and failures in asylum policy.

The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and thereafter the acronym PS.