One of the most significant political debates going on in Finland now is the fate of about 40 Finnish women and children at the al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria. The debate has taken such shameful turns that even ministers have tuned to their followers on social media to ask whether these women and children should be repatriated.
It is clear that prejudices and hardcore racism against Muslims, especially women who ditch their white Finnish majority culture for another religion, is one driving force in the ongoing debate.
The saddest matters about the ongoing debate is the near-constant Islamophobic disinformation and wishy-washy politicians scoring brownie points with voters. The discussion exposes pretty well our racism towards Muslims.
Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s biggest daily and which should know better, is also responsible for spreading stereotypes and racism against Muslims.
Other mainstream media in Finland like Yle commonly spread stereotypes about Muslims like in this story published in 2018.
Since the repatriation debate of the Finnish women and children at al-Hol is an ongoing story, Helsingin Sanomat has an illustration of five women and four children to highlight the topic. Even if the women at al-Hol wear niqabs, the drawing suggests they us burkas (sic).
The difference between the hijab (or veil), niqab, and burka is pretty clear as the picture below shows. Muslims are common in our society, and we should learn to know the difference between the three.
If papers like Helsingin Sanomat want to stop spreading stereotypes and disinformation about vulnerable groups like Muslims in Finland, they should get their facts right and take the time to research their stories better.
They should, at the minimum, know the difference between a niqab and burka.