In a country like Finland, where the police are demigods, the epic failure of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) in not reacting soon enough to the terrorist attack in Turku stands out like a sore thumb. Supo had received a tip in early 2017 from the police about the suspect Abderrahman Mechkah’s radicalized and extremist views, according to YLE News.
If President Sauli Niinistö and the government want to speak of the “two extremes,” or tolkun ihmiset, Meckhkah offers us an example of the other extreme. Now we have a terrorist on one end and neo-Nazi Eppu Tornianen, who killed a young man in the fall with a massive kick in the chest, Finland First, MV, Vastarintaliike, Perussuomalaiset*, and others.
If there is one matter that the terrorist attack in Turku did on Friday was smash alas to pieces the tolkun ihmiset nonsense used to silence and control debate on our ever-growing cultural and ethnic diversity. Furthermore, as in Charlottesville and in Turku, empty promises of social equality, tolerance and “pro-inclusive” integration pledges will no longer work because they never have.
Finland needs concrete deeds and a paradigm policy shift that it is serious about being a welcoming society that promotes social equality for everyone who lives here irrespective of their background. Finland is an ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse society, period.
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Suggesting and labeling people who speak out against racism and defend our Nordic values as extremists reveal that Finland is still in deep denial about its racism and discrimination issues.
Christian Thibault, executive director of Liikkukaa – Sports for All, agrees.
“The root problem in Finland is that we live in denial about immigration and providing refuge [to asylum seekers],” he said. “This [cultural diversity] isn’t something temporary that will go away tomorrow but will stay here forever.”
Thibault asked who was supervising terrorist suspect when he lived in an asylum reception center.
“He was not part of the integration process,” he continued. “You can never guarantee 100% that a terrorist attack will not take place, but if we had kept our eye on him, there could have been a 90% chance of averting what happened in Turku.”
If there is one matter that a significant number of asylum seekers exposed when they came to Finland in 2015, it was our ineffective immigration and asylum system. Having people wait for almost two years if they can get a residence permit or not and deporting people against their will to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan show how inefficient and heartless our policy is.
One of the matters that characterized the people of Nazi Germany was their lack of empathy to the suffering of others. We are at that juncture in Finland and Europe today.
Thibault said that we should not forget that the police together with Finnish and Middle Easterners acted quickly to stop the knife-wheeling perpetrator.
Despite such deeds, the Liikkukaa – Sports for All executive director sees the reaction to Turku was overblown.
“Instead of offering silence and mourning to the victims, politicians, the media, and people reacted hysterically,” he added.
Should we be surprised that President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä would use what happened in Turku to speed up the granting new powers to authorities to monitor citizens online?
The passage of such laws to counter terrorism are problematic since they target certain groups based on their ethnic and religious background. In a country like Finland, where ethnic profiling is an issue, how can the police and Supo ensure that they won’t ethnically profile Muslims, Middle Easterners, and Africans?
Would such new surveillance powers have stopped what happened in Turku if Supo failed to react to a police tip?
If new research has shown that ethnic profiling is more common than believed in this country, what assurances do we have that ethnicity and religion won’t be the main factors in surveillance?
The European Network Against Racism, an anti-racism NGO, believes that counter-terrorism laws in the EU are problematic because they open the door targeting ethnic and religious minorities in the name of the fight against terrorism.
Another worrisome matter about the terrorist attack are attacks and reprisals against the migrant community. Helsingin Sanomat reported Tuesday that two men approached a man in Vantaa and stabbed him after asking if he was a Muslim. Migrant Tales reported three business establishments that were attacked over the weekend.
One of the most hysteric things we heard over the weekend was Päivi Nerg, interior ministry permanent secretary, who advised people to report to the police if there is a slight suspicion that the person is a terrorist suspect.
Nerg should understand that such statements encourage witch-hunts and suspicion of migrants and minorities in Finland.
* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.
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.