HS: Kristillisten Päivi Räsänen ottaa vastuun maahanmuuttoasioista

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: I wonder what kind of thoughts crossed some people’s minds when they heard that Christian Democrat Päivi Räsänen was going be appointed minister of the interior in charge of immigration affairs.  

One of the matters that Räsänen is known for were her provocative opinions of homosexuality on TV talk show A-tuubi in October, where she defined homosexuality as a sin. As a result, her statements caused an exodus of  a thousand people a week to abandon the Lutheran Church. 

The BBC did a program on this unprecedented exodus in March. 

Räsänen’s views on immigration have also caused some waves. One of these was her opinion that Finland should only take Christian refugees. She wrote the following in a blog on Uusi Suomi:  “Our country’s culture, values and morals have been built around Christian ethics and we must not abandon them starting from our homes, day care centers and when bringing up children.” 

Certainly naming a conservative like Räsänen to handle immigration affairs must be an answer to the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party’s anti-immigration rhetoric that went down so well with some voters in April.

It’s still too early to say how things will pan out with Räsänen, but her appointment doesn’t look good for promoting cultural diversity in Finland or for the acceptance of visible immigrants. 


Joonas Laitinen

Tuleva sisäministeri Päivi Räsänen (kd) saa hoitaakseen maahanmuuttoasiat. Jyrki Kataisen (kok) ensimmäisessä hallituksessa ei ole edellisen hallituksen tapaan erillistä maahanmuuttoministeriä vaan nämä tehtävät siirtyvät sisäministerin hoidettavaksi.

Read whole story.

  1. Hmmm

    A bit off topic, but here goes… What do you mean by “promoting cultural diversity”? Is it increasing the number of various cultures just for the sake of increasing the number of various cultures. If so, I don’t see the point. I mean if it happens naturally and is not too problematic, then it happens, but I don’t see why it should be separately promoted. Instead I think that acceptance and mutual respect are some of the related things that should be promoted.

    • Enrique

      Hmmm, promoting cultural diversity is the same thing as defending individual and group rights to be different. True, it happens naturally, but you have groups like the PS and others who don’t want to see it happen. How they plan to stop it is anyone’s guess. But, true, cultural diversity is here to stay.

      One more thing… By promotion I mean that we defend people’s civil rights. One of these is the right to our identity and culture. Look at our society as a place with many options and lifestyles. We choose the one we consider the best for us.

  2. Allan

    I don’t see why it should be separately promoted
    Maybe these multiculturalists wants more dark immigrants so they have someone to look down upon?

  3. Hmmm

    That sounds more reasonable. Maybe you should call it by some other name than promoting cultural diversity. Defending individual and group rights to be different does not require diversity, it just enables it.

  4. Seppo

    A good question is why the hell the KD is in the government at all? They would have 120 seats without them, clearly enough.

    The answer lies in Kokoomus. They felt that the government would become too leftist and liberal without Päivi and her fellow extreme conservatives. Even though Jyrki is, and Alexander even more, a liberal, there is a strong conservative wing inside Kokoomus which they need to take into account. I see this whole KD thing, with Räsänen as minister for internal affairs, as a way to please the conservatives inside Kok.

    It’s also a way to manouvre with the critique from the PS that will get stronger and stronger. If they have the most conservative member of the government as responsible for immigrant issues, the PS cannot attack them so hard on this.

    So it’s all about politics, political tactics, which might, unfortunately, be felt among the immigrant community in the following years.

  5. Jonas

    Stefan Wallin looked distinctly uncomfortable sitting next to her during Friday’s press conference when she answered the question from a Swedish-speaking journalist about gender-neutral marriage (which she decided to answer in Finnish, multiculturalist that she is). Wallin has been extremely vocal in his criticism of Räsänen in the past. The Greens are hardly over the moon about having her around the government table either. Splits were evident in their solution to the gender-neutral marriage issue.

    It is very sad for the Lutheran Church that she has provoked such an exodus last year. Many inside KD are quite hostile to the state church (it’s far too liberal for their tastes) and are members of free churches. People just associated Christian Democrats with the state church and took it out on the Lutheran Church, largely unjustly. I am sure that many in the Church leadership are actually pretty sad to hear that she will have responsibility for ecclesiastical issues.

    I don’t really understand why KD is in government either. I suspect Seppo is right. It’s a good ‘shield’ against the Basic Finns.

  6. Allan

    How long do you give the “sixpack” to survive? Käteinen was holding Wallin as a muppet since the beginning, so Jutta took Arhinmäki to counterpoint. They seem to have the scenarios worked out, so are the Greens and KD there as neutralising each other in a “balance of terror”?

    Nevertheless having a Green as the Minister of Environment is going to be quite interesting.

  7. Jonas

    I am sure that it is true that Katainen wanted SFP in his government as their views on economic policy are fairly compatible and SFP (whilst this is oversimplifying) is a liberal, non-socialist party – so a good partner to have in a government from his point of view, if you’re bringing in SDP and Left Alliance. But, to say Wallin has been “held as a muppet” seems to ignore the fact that so much of SFP’s election manifesto is in the government programme, much more than in the last government programme. SFP seem to have negotiated very well.

  8. JusticeDemon


    having a Green as the Minister of Environment is going to be quite interesting.


    Pekka Haavisto and Satu Hassi managed this portfolio In Lipponen I and II right up to the time when the Green Party resigned from the government over the nuclear energy issue in May 2002.

    Päivi Räsänen has no ministerial experience at all, whereas Ritva Viljanen has been running the Interior Ministry since 2003. I would be very surprised if we have anything other than a de facto virkamieshallitus as far as this ministry is concerned for at least the first term of this government.

    • Enrique

      Hi Vincent and welcome to Migrant Tales. There is one matter that unites us on this blog: Finland is our home and we want to contribute and be a part of the debate on this country’s future, which is here now. If you want to read really depressing stuff you should visit Scrpta, Hommaforum and others.

      Migrant Tales is a humble voice of many, especially those faintly heard by society.

  9. Prometo

    “Stefan Wallin looked distinctly uncomfortable sitting next to her during Friday’s press conference when she answered the question from a Swedish-speaking journalist about gender-neutral marriage (which she decided to answer in Finnish, multiculturalist that she is).”

    Why is a knowledge of Swedish a prerequisite to being multicultural in Finland? My parents were born in 2 separate countries, I was born and brought up in a 3rd and now I’ve lived in Finland for nearly 10 years. I consider myself to be a multicultural Finn and do not speak Swedish. Neither do my Ethiopian-Finnish, Russian-Finnish, Mexican-Finnish or Finnish-Nigerian friends… Can you clear that one up for me?

  10. Allan

    Migrant Tales is a humble voice of many, especially those faintly heard by society.
    As in voices in your head? This blog is an antifinitic hate-speech site denigrating Finland.

    • Enrique

      Allan, when I hear a blogger do the “reverse racism” strategy on us I kind of simile and say: Is that all you can hit us with? We are pretty battle-hardened here. Challenge us with real arguments not this that hit below the belt.

  11. Jonas

    Hi Prometo,
    It’s not. Nor is fluency in Finnish. But, we are talking about a government minister here, one who has appeared on TV speaking Swedish before (and is happy to campaign for votes in Swedish) but when asked a question in Swedish by a journalist at a press conference answers (without explanation) in another language. Quite disrespectful, but not uncommon behaviour – Vanhanen did it all the time. But perhaps you are right to suggest that I somewhat clumsily expressed my point above, apologies if you took offence.

  12. Prometo

    Hi Jonas,
    Thanks for your response. I didn’t know that Minister Räsänen campaigned in Swedish. Since the press conference was in an official setting, perhaps it would have been better if a separate translator (fully fluent in both Finnish and Finland Swedish) could have been on hand. Sort of like an EU meeting in Brussels. Simultaneous translation could have been provided through earphones, and a translator would have been on hand to give a full, grammatically correct translation in Swedish for the journalist that posed the question. To me it is disrespectful for the journalist himself to be asking a question in a language spoken by 5,4 percent (2007 statistics, including the semi-autonomus Åland) of the population and requesting a response in Swedish. Perhaps English would have been better? He could have posed the question in both languages or there should have been arrangements like I mentioned above. I viewed the press conference as well and with the exception of Stefan-Wallin (whose mother tongue is Swedish) and Ville Niinistö (whom I believe is married to a Swede) the others responded rather clumsily. I (personally) do not think its disrespectful for a government minister to respond in Finnish when it’s the language of 95 percent of the people in the country, including immigrants who are trying to find work in the country. In some Western countries, like Belgium, Canada, and the USA, where the minority language and their percent spoken are (French 40 %, French 22.3%, Spanish 15 %) a significant majority of politicians are not fluent in the other domestic language of their country and still carry on their business through translators. No one thinks of them in a ‘disrespectful or uncommon behaviour’.

  13. Allan

    I think it is quite common for politicians to make an answer in their native language, if you feel that you are not comfortably fluent in the other. If you want “respect” then if the politician can’t speak Swedish past the few years in school the answer will be “jag inte”.

  14. Jonas

    Hi again Prometo, Finland is a bilingual country with two official languages. Journalists from the Swedish-speaking media operate in Swedish, just as journalists from the Finnish-speaking media operate in Finnish. Journalists, of either language group, quite rightly hope that party leaders who have previously spoken both languages when addressing them will answer a question in the same language it is asked in. They certainly expect them to understand the question, as Räsänen did. She did indeed do some campaigning in Swedish. In Tv-nytt’s party leader interview segment in the run up to the 17 April election, she was shown talking to Swedish-speaking pensioners in Swedish in the Lundi shopping centre in Borgå. The party also has not insignificant support amongst Swedish-speakers in the more religious areas in Österbotten. What is she saying to her Swedish-speaking voters? I will campaign for your vote in your language, but once I have it, I don’t care.

    Jyrki Kaitainen is a good example. His Swedish is not the best in the world by any measure. But, when he came to the chairmanship of his party it was truly terrible. Since then, he has worked at it and persevered. And he always tries to answer in Swedish. This is greatly appreciated by the Swedish-speaking population. He shows respect and appreciation for Finland’s bilingualism.

    If you are suggesting that journalists are being disrespectful using Swedish, does that mean Swedish-speakers are also being disrespectful when they go to the tax office, or the bank, or a shop etc and speak Swedish, their mother tongue, in their own country? Rather an intolerant view.

    If we take your logic further, 70% or so are members of the Lutheran church, should we not tolerate people expressing other religions? Perhaps we should ban Muslim immigration on this grounds? Is not the expression of Islam disrespectful to the majority of Lutherans? Of course it is not. Only a person who has some kind of discriminative attitude towards other religions would think so. Do you hold a discriminative attitude towards speakers of Swedish in Finland?

    Apologies to Enrique for going off-topic!

    • Enrique

      Jonas, you are not off topic but right on it. The acceptance of immigrants and multicultural Finns is directly related to accepting minorities and immigrants by the majority. In sum it is an issue about our values and views of our society. Do we accept or not diversity in our society?

  15. Prometo

    Hi Jonas,

    I am fully aware that Finland is a bilingual country by our 1919 constitution with its status further enhanced in 2000. I am also aware that Swedish speaking media operates in Swedish, as does Finnish-speaking media in Finnish and English speaking media in English, etc.

    Don’t you think it may be possible that Minister Räsänen felt comfortable in the informal setting of a Porvoo shopping mall to speak in Swedish, which perhaps is not her strongest language? During a live press conference in an official government setting perhaps it may be that she feels more comfortable expressing herself in her native language which as you state is official in Finland. I do not believe that Räsänen meant to insult, belittle or to say that she would “campaign for your vote in your language, but once I have it, I don’t care.” She clearly respects Swedish speakers by giving them an answer in a language that she is completely fluent and capable of speaking in, and not a grammatically incorrect, simplistic and basic response as some of the others did.

    Due to Finland’s official bilingualism, I suggested that there be in an official capacity a separate translator fluent in both languages whom would provide a response in Swedish for Swedish speaking media.
    I applaud Katainen’s ability to pick up and improve his Swedish. I would not say though that his ability to speak or not speak fluent Swedish impacts his job as prime minister. Likewise, Sweden’s Prime Minister Reinfeldt’s ability to speak or not speak Finnish, an official minority language indigenous to the country, does not impact his ability to govern. I am certain that Prime Minister Reinfeldt respects the Finnish-speaking Swedes without needing to speak their language.

    I am not suggesting that Swedish speakers are disrespectful for speaking Swedish at a tax office, a bank, a shop, etc. Due to demographic realities, in some ‘bilingual’ cities in Finland, like Vantaa, for example, the Swedish speaking population is less than 3 percent. I do believe that it is disrespectful if a Swedish speaker enters a KELA office in Korso say and demand service in Swedish with the very first person that they see. If they asked first for a Swedish speaking staff member that would be better. It would have been more polite in my opinion for that particular journalist to ask each minister in what language they would be more comfortable speaking in instead of disrespectfully asking them by their first names, i.e., Jyrki, Jutta, Ville for a response in a language that some are not fluent in.

    I never said in my previous post that Swedish should be banned in Finland. So taking —your– illogical logic further makes no sense. All people in Finland should be able to practice whichever religion they choose or not practice at all. Some of my closest and most intimate friends are Swedish-speaking Finns, and they concur with many of my statements above.

    Hope you are enjoying the weather…

  16. Rasmus

    I saw the press conference, the question was not put to her in particular first. She carried on with her usual 19th century views after Ville Niinistö’s remarks – ideas she’d found horrific (we’ll all go to hell) by the look on her face.

    I think she was disrespectful going straight into Finnish without saying ‘excuse me if I answer in Finnish’ or some such thing first. Nobody minds if you do that. I don’t when I’m at the cash desk or whatever.

    The question to her was from someone from FNB (STT) not from Yle’s Kenneth Stambej who was the guy calling them by their first names near the start of the questions. Nothing wrong with that though, he’s been around for years and they all know who he is (and that he is from Svenska Yle). They all regularly answer his questions.

    As for a Swedish-speaker in Vanda, of course they should begin in Swedish at a state office! When the first influx of Finnish speakers moved in from the countryside, do you think they asked politely in Swedish for Finnish language service?

  17. Hannu

    So enrigue you claim that our country isnt build on christian values? And that we shouldnt take refugees (like we dont have say on who we take like USA) who probably fit in?

  18. JusticeDemon


    It comes as no surprise to hear you admit that you are unchristian, but where does your expertise in these matters come from?

  19. Prometoo

    @ Rasmus

    You mention that Minister Räsänen’s thoughts come from 19th century thinking… I believe that every person in Finland has to right to practise their faith freely or not practise at all, and if a significant group of the population have elected her to represent them who share her faith then in this 21st century her ’19th century views’ should be one point of view in the new government.

    I can tell you something that to me is very ’19th century thinking.’ The idea that some Finland-Swedish speakers have that an area should have an official Swedish speaking government in perpetuity. 150+ years ago, when a few thousand people lived in the area now comprising Vantaa, the majority were Finland Swedish-speaking. Today, with the population being over 200.000+ residents, virtually all Finnish speaking (as a native or second language), this idea of kowtowing to official Swedish in government seems absurd. The 50 thousand residents of Vantaa who come from outside Finland are trying to integrate into Finnish language and culture, and telling them that because a couple hundred years ago a few thousand people spoken only Swedish in Vantaa will not be enough to change their mind.

    Going back 800-900 years ago, did the colonizing Swedes who landed on Finland’s coasts learn the Finnish language and culture to accomodate the local population? Your argument makes no sense.

    I think that language legislation should reflect the Finland of today, and not the one of 200+ years ago.

  20. Hannu

    Justicedemon i have seen and talked for a lot of people, some christians and some not. I have been in between rock and the hard place.
    I have been in front of jehova family and i have been front of laestedian family and i have been front of muslim family, only 2 of these accepted that its our decision if we want to try. One jude family didnt go that far.
    Only case when i really had to fear was muslim since i apparently “dishonored” them…

  21. JusticeDemon


    I’m not sure what you were rambling about there, but it didn’t seem to indicate any degree of expertise on your part.

    You might like to consider how your opinion squares with the promises made by Finland when ratifying the Geneva Refugee Convention (you haven’t read it, have you?), thus:

    Article 3. – Non-discrimination

    The Contracting States shall apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.

    Article 4. – Religion

    The Contracting States shall accord to refugees within their territories treatment at least as favourable as that accorded to their nationals with respect to freedom to practise their religion and freedom as regards the religious education of their children.

    Any policy of selecting refugees according to religion or selectively interfering in the religious freedom of refugees would mean that Finland was breaking its promises.

    Do you think Finland should break its promises, Hannu?

    It is self-evident that Päivi Räsänen was equally ignorant of Finland’s international commitments when offering her views on this subject – hence the embarrassed retraction.