Ilta-Sanomat’s message hasn’t changed in the past 30 years: Islam and refugees are a threat to Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Ever wondered why tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat continue to publish racist stories? When the first Somalis came to Finland in the early 1990s, the tabloid had a field day (see billboards below). Imagine headlines like “Somalis will remain in Finland,” “Somalis tricked (authorities) to get asylum,” and twenty years later, “10,000 illegal refugees will come this year to Finland.”

As we all know, there is no such thing as an “illegal” refugee. Refugees are refugees, period.

The latest story by Ilta-Sanomat is on EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, who said something positive about Islam on her visit to the United Arab Emirates (see tweet below).

What does the Ilta-Sanomat story reveal about anti-Muslim racism in Finland? It shows that Finnish tabloids and the media have successfully framed Muslims as a threat to Finland. If you say something positive about Muslims, you are a traitor and must be crazy.

I commend Juttilainen for her leadership and example. She shows that we do not have to remain prisoners of our racism and prejudices forever. All cultures have positive and negative things.

Even if the media usually does not interview people they are attacking or labeling negatively, Ilta-Sanomat did get in touch with Helsinki University professor of semic culture, Hannu Juusola.

“No matter how much we think that we should dress as we like, very few people think that in the holy place of another religion you can dress as you like,” he was quoted as saying. “In the Finnish context, no one thinks you can go to church in the same clothes as, say, to the beach.”

While Juusola’s comments are welcome, they were at the bottom of the story. Before his comments, the tabloid fed its readers with its usual suspicion and racism of Muslims.

One of these comments in the story was by Seida Shorabi, a right-wing National Coalition Party deputy councilperson for Helsinki who has made a name for herself by parrotting Islamophobic statements by hardline Finnish politicians like MP Atte Kaleva of the same party.

“Dear Jutta [Urpilainen], you have brought out well the image of women in Islam and their position in the picture. Your text shows that you have not studied Islam much,” she states.

Shorabi, who according to the European Islamophobic Report is part of the Finnish Islamophobic network, used to be a member of Suomen sekulaatir maahanmuuttajat, where its chairperson, Anter Yasa, videotaped and burned the Koran.

The fact that Shorabi is an Ilta-Sanomat columnist begs a question: Why aren’t there guest columnists who can write something positive about Islam and immigrants?

You will find the answer when you look at Ilta-Sanomat’s what it has written about migrants.