Hate crimes increase in 2011 in Finland: And now, what?

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What do the 918 suspected hate crime cases in 2011 in Finland tell us about ourselves as a society and what should our reaction be to such a social ill? And now, what?

Considering that the majority of crimes go unreported, it’s clear that hate crimes reported to the police are only the tip of the iceberg of a much wider problem.

This tabloid billboard from 1996 states that the Somalis are not going to move from Finland. The majority of hate crimes reported last year were against Somalis.

Migrant Tales has written previously about how difficult it is to report hate crimes in Finland. Some policemen don’t even believe that racist harassment should be reported.

One policeman in Mikkeli told a group of immigrants that racist harassment is a minor affair. It’s like when he gets hassled in his hometown by the locals, who remind him that he is a policeman.

A recent report on hate crimes in Wales showed how people adapted to such abuse.

Heaven Crawley, director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University, said that they endure “everyday racism.”  Adapting to such harassment could encourage one to not use public transport, cover up one’s skin so people cannot tell a person belongs to a minority, young women may prefer not to wear the hijab because it targets them for racist abuse.

While the Police College of Finland report is a shameful chapter for a society like ours that bases its values on social equality, Nordic democracy and tolerance, the biggest culprits are not those who commit hate crimes but those who still turn a blind eye to such a social ill.

While the hate crime report by the Police College of Finland showed a 7% increase from 2010, not a single politician spoke out or expressed concern about the report.

It is very difficult for the majority of Finnish politicians to speak out against racism, hate crimes and intolerance in general as long as one of Finland’s largest political parties, the Perussuomalaiset, promotes intolerance and is the refuge for anti-immigration extremists.

What keeps us as a society from speaking out and condemning a pathological disorder like racism, which is at the root of the majority of hate crime cases?

Are we afraid to admit that intolerance is an issue – or are we quiet because deep down inside some of us still think that racism is ok?