Abdulah, whose life as a Somali Finn has appeared in previous stories on Migrant Tales, was especially troubled by a news story published this month about the sharp rise in deportations of convicted and undocumented immigrants. According to YLE, the number of deportations from Finland have risen sharply after the Sello Mall killings of December 31, 2009.
Last year alone, the Finnish Immigration Service (FIS) deported over 270 people. That’s about 50 more, or a 22% rise, from 220 deportation in 2011.
The Sello Mall killings, which took place at a crowded mall in the Espoo suburb of Leppävaara, was carried out by Ibrahim Shkupolli, who murdered five people before taking his life. Read full story here.
FIS denies that there is a connection between the rise in deportations and the killings that took place at Leppävaara about four years ago.
For Abdulah, who has applied since 1999 five times without luck for Finnish citizenship, the news about the rise in deportations was a source of concern for a number of reasons. Apart from reinforcing his view that Finland has become an ever-intolerant and xenophobic country to live in, it apparently worsened his chances of getting citizenship.
“I moved to this country when I was seven years old and have lived here for over twenty years,” he said. “Finland is my home country. I speak Finnish better than the language of my parents.”
Abdulah, who says Finland became a more racist country especially after the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party won the 2011 elections, claims that his human rights are being violated because he’s denied citizenship. He’s gets the following standard explanation every time his citizenship application is turned down: “Your behavior [in this country] hasn’t been above reproach.”*
The Somali Finn, who is presently unemployed, said that applying for citizenship is expensive costing 450 euros.
“Is my destiny in Finland to live as a permanent outsider?” asked Abdulah.
“That’s a lot of money for me,” he continued. “I saved up the money for a whole year. I ate cheap food like macaroni, spaghetti, tuna fish flakes, ground meat that was on sale and two slices of bread before going to bed. Your body suffers because it doesn’t get enough protein.”
Breakfast was never a problem for Abdulah since you can buy porridge at the market for less than a euro.
Abdulah said that in a six-year period he was sentenced five times by a court. Four times for fighting in public and once for attempted robbery.
He claims that he was sentenced unjustly.
“Back then, I was young, naive and lacked a father figure since my dad died just before 1999,” he said. “I should have just stayed at home and not hang out with the wrong people. I should have understood that Finland is a very racist country and that the system, the police and the courts are stacked against you.”
Abdulah said that in one case where he took part in a fight, a group of skinheads attacked him and his friends. The police came and he was arrested even if it the skinheads started the fight.
“Once I was accused of being in another fight,” he continued. “The white Finn claimed that we started it but the police believed his word against ours even if he didn’t have any witnesses. The police treated me with disrespect. Once they locked me up at a police station and addressed me all the time with the n-word.”
Abdulah admits that one can make mistakes when you’re young. But he’s today a changed man.
“Back when I was young, I looked for acceptance,” he said. “I couldn’t find it in society, which was hostile to me, or among my family.”
“As I mentioned, I lost my father and lacked a father figure as well,” he continued. “If I could, I would challenge those cases against me. I was sentenced unjustly. Sometimes I didn’t have access to a lawyer. Being black and a Somali in this society meant that you were already guilty before the trial began.”
Another part of Abdulah’s dilemma in Finland hinges on what so many children of immigrants experience, living in between two cultures. For those who have experienced it, it’s like living in a land between Nowhere and Somewhere for some.
“Being from a culture that you used to identity with and from another one that doesn’t accept you really mixes up your sense of who you are and it’s depressing,” he said. “Not being able to get citizenship only reinforces that feeling of estrangement.”
- Abdulah: Healing the wounds inflicted by intolerance and regaining balance (April 21, 2013)
- Cultural diversity in Finland: A letter from Ida, Abdulah and Micah (January 11, 2013)
- Somali-Finn Abdulah: Living in no-man’s land (Part 2) (June 21, 2012)
- Somali-Finn Abdulah: Living in no-man’s land (Part I) (June 20, 2012)
* Et ole ollut nuhteeton.