Even if Islamophobic parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* rarely mention the word “Muslim(s)” in their hate messages and campaigns, Islamophobia is without a doubt the most significant threat today to Finland’s institutions and society.
Apart from the steady rise of hate speech and hate crime, Islamophobia is spearheaded by parties like the PS. It, if any, is responsible for fueling racism, hate speech, and hate crimes in Finland.
Words matter, and they can kill, too.
One of the reasons why the PS is the second-biggest party in parliament today is because we have a serious Islamophobia and racism problem in this society.
Such social ills will not recede until we wake up and acknowledge them for what they are – threats.
Downplaying far-right ideology and its toxic fruits like Islamophobia is reckless and dangerous. In Norway, we have seen two attempts to murder Muslims as Anders Breivik did in 22/7 and Philip Manshaus tried but fortunately failed this month.
Considering the PS’ good showing in the April parliamentary election, it’s clear that matters in Finland are going to get worse before they improve.
Just like the PS avoids naming Muslims as their main enemy but speak instead of “people of migrant origin,” which is code for non-EU citizens who are either black and/or Muslim, so do politicians and the media when speaking of parties that directly fuel Islamophobia in Finland.
A good example of the latter is Swedish People’s Party Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality Thomas Blomqvist, who was quoted in Uusi Suomi on Monday speaking at a foreign ministry event.
“Unfortunately, [social media] debate in [our] society has polarized and fueled hate speech and hate crime to grow here and elsewhere are serious threats to maintaining social harmony,” he said. “Systematic harassment, threats, and defamation threaten freedom of expression, public authority, research, and [media] communication.”
While I agree with what Blomqvist stated, it is surprising how little attention his words got in the national media.
The near-constant playing down of far-right ideology and Islamophobia by the PS offers us an answer to why populism and Islamophobia have grown this decade.
Apart from the media being too white, many reporters lack experience and knowledge about reporting on topics like racism and populism.
It is unfortunate, considering that it is the role of the media to protect and watch over our democracy and expose those forces that seek to destroy it.
* The far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. In the last parliamentary election, Blue Reform has wiped off the Finnish political map when they saw their numbers in parliament plummet from 18 MPs to none. 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.