Ibrahim’s last chat with me before his departure to Iraq

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Ibrahim’s* case, the Iraqi asylum seeker who returned “voluntarily” to Iraq this week, is a case in point of how the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) and politicians fail people. Here are some facts about Ibrahim, who moved to Finland in October 2015: he applied for 25-30 jobs a week; constantly did voluntary work; converted to Christianity; and found employment delivering newspapers during his last months at Posti. 

From these facts, we can easily conclude that Ibrahim was an ideal asylum seeker who could adapt pretty rapidly to life in this country.

Juho Kusti Paasikivi, the main architect of Finland’s post-war foreign policy as prime minister (1944-46) and president [1946-56), used the following quote by nineteenth-century British politician Thomas Babington Macaulay: The beginning of all wisdom is acknowledgment of facts.


Instructions on what an asylum seeker can take back to Iraq. After almost three years, Ibrahim’s possessions must fit in two 23-kg pieces of luggage.

Paasikivi used this quote to understand Finland’s difficult geopolitical situation with the former Soviet Union.

Babington Macaulay’s quote sits well for the difficult situation that two-thirds of asylum seekers faced and continue to face in this country.

What are those facts that asylum seekers who came to Finland from 2015 should acknowledge to become wiser?

  • In 2015, the populist anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) [1] formed part of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government;
  • Open hostility from the government against asylum seekers who were mainly Muslims;
  • The government, the police, and especially the media, was toothless in reporting fairly about this new group of people;
  • Finland had lost its Nordic moral compass to such an extent that could not say if vigilante groups like the Soldiers of Odin were a far-right group;
  • The right of vigilante group to patrol our streets were given the green light by some police leaders, who acted on hearsay from newsgroups like Suomen Uutiset of the PS;
  • In sum, Finland’s government continues to do everything possible to make the country a hostile and unwelcoming place for asylum seekers.

When Paasikivi used Babington Macaulay’s quote he did so to understand better the beast and how to tame it.

Speaking to Ibrahim 

I spoke to Ibrahim a couple of hours before his flight back to Iraq. He asked me to publish the story a few days later because he did not want to raise any suspicion about when he would be in Iraq.

“Remember Ali who returned to Iraq?” he continued. “I now feel that a huge weight taken off my shoulders.”

During that short conversation before his departure, I asked a lot of questions but didn’t receive any answers.

One of these was: What do you think you’ll be thinking when your feet touch Iraqi soil again?

A difficult question to answer considering that Ibrahim invested almost three years of his life, money is building a future that came to naught in Finland.

* The name of the asylum seeker was changed in order to protect his identity.

[1] 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.