Introducing presidential hopeful Laura Huhtasaari, the Islamophobe with the kindergarten teacher smile

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The far-right anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party announced Friday that their first vice president, Laura Huhtasaari, is their candidate for the 2018 presidential elections. The announcement didn’t surprise anyone but it did raise a lot of media and social media interest. 

There are many things we could say about Huhtasaari. The short description below will give you a taste of what she is:

Huhtasaari is an avid Islamophobe, a Donald Trump supporter, a creationist who wants to see Finland shut its doors to asylum seekers and wants keep the country white and ditch the EU. Her white image and her bigoted comments have earned her the title at Migrant Tales of the Islamophobe with the kindergarten teacher smile.

Even if Huhtasaari is a special needs teacher and she should know better, Reija Härkönen revealed in January how she shamelessly plagiarized other people’s text.

Some believe that if she can copy other people’s text with such ease, the same could have happened in her master’s thesis, which was on multicultural classrooms.

Huhtasaari’s thesis could be accessed on the Internet a few years ago. That is no longer possible.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that experts say that Huhtasaari is a different type of presidential candidate since she is an under-40-year-old woman with no foreign policy experience and a creationist.

What does Huhtasaari represent and what does it say about the far right in Finland?

Even if her candidacy attracted a lot of attention a recent poll gave showed her popularity at 1%. That compares with 62% for President Sauli Niinistö and 11% for Green Party hopeful Pekka Haavisto.

The fact that the media is so interested in Huhtasaari is the same fatal attraction that helped the PS rise from a minor party in the 2000s to one of the biggest in the following decade. The fact that there is so much media interest in politicians that spread racism, Islamophobia, neoliberalism and far-right populism reveals a lot about how our country plays down such social ills.

The PS’ former head Timo Soini is a good example of the media’s blind spot of the anti-immigration party.

In an op-ed piece written by Juha Akkanen in Helsingin Sanomat, which makes the correct analysis that Soini played with fire when he let in anti-immigration politicians like the PS’ present head Jussi Halla-aho, who was convicted for ethnic agitation in 2012.

Soini didn’t spare Finnish society of racism and bigotry as he claims but instead let such hostility loose against migrants and minorities.

We have called this media’s blind spot in Migrant Tales as Soini’s good-cop-bad-cop strategy, which involves legendary statements by the former head like “I’m a Catholic Christian by definition, I cannot be a racist,” and that there are “one or two [racist] outbursts [in the PS].”

Under Soini’s leadership, the PS became the first party in Finland after World War 2 to capitalize politically on racism and bigotry.

Let’s not, for the record, forget such facts.

* After 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.

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