Included – not integrated

by , under Finland, Maarit Snellman

Inclusion is when everyone is along per se.

In Finland we are still struggling with integration issues. We need programmes and policies so that developmentally disabled people can live where other people are living. We need special laws to make sure that they can have the services they need. But those does not matter when money comes to the picture. Because they are not productive in the eyes of decision makers.

There is a long history of segregative practices in Finland. Disabled people we hidden to institutions in the rural areas because that was best for the disabled. Now the times have changed but lot of work has been done and still has to be done before disabled are equals with the rest of us.

There is intolerance against Sami people and Roms. Finnish – Swedes have been hated and disliked for decades. This increased before 2011 Parliament elections when populism came to Finnish politics by Perussuomalaiset. One of my Sami friends was attacked in the university campus because of his activism.

When my parents came here as refugees after evacuation in 1944 from the neck of land Karelia not everyone was happy for that. Karelians are more talkative and outgoing. Many thought Karelian traditions and habits were bizarre.

A couple of moths ago I was told that Finns have done enough for refugees when they took the Karelian people here. People who had lost everything like all of my grandparents. We are also unwelcome and unwanted. Own people. But we Karelians we integrated and we paid taxes. That was the good part I was told. This made me fee like crying.

In this context of intolerance I don’t wonder at all that refugees, paperless, immigrants, other foreigners and black-skinned people meet intolerance, hard attitudes, racism and discrimination.

What comes to religious diversity Finland has been very Lutherian for a long long time. Times are changing and some people have difficulties to face to growing multiculturalism. We have developed a new phobia – Islamofobia. People suffering for it unfortunately are the loudest ones in most public discussion. At the same time Anti-Semitism is rising in Europe

Constitutional Law of Finland and law for equality are clear on equal rights. The new Finnish government says in the government programme that racism will not be tolerated. Still Perussuomalaiset as an openly racist party has been taken to government and the spokesman Soini is the minister of foreign affairs. The rest of the government is looking the other way which is participating to racist acts. I haven heard a single statement concerning increasing hostility made by government members.

Finnish media has a lot to do with the success of Perussuomalaiset and influencing on negative attitudes towards diversity. Media has given PS a lot of media time and helped them to first election victory in 2011. That is the opinion of some political analysts. I just wonder what is in the interests of media to make sure that party hostile towards foreigners and against immigration is doing well.

Law for equal marriage rights should come into the force in 2017 in Finland. But 50 000 people have supported citizen initiative to prevent it from happening. Mostly religious arguments are being used against the fact that sexual orientation is a biological feature. Homophobia is alive and well.

There are also signs of political discrimination. The left parties are the reason for the poor economics. Which is as much BS as that islamist or jihadist is the same as Muslim. Also the poor and unemployed are having a hard time and get blamed for their situation.

Economics is poor but that does not justify racism or xenophobia. We don’t need to make same poor choices and mistakes. We can make some profound changes in economics. We don’t need scapegoats. That wont solve anything. We have been through that road before and cruelty, inhumanity and violence just are not solution. We can do better. But we have to solve the economics and some key social issues it is causing globally.

Inclusion is when everyone is along per se.