Is there racism in Finland? In order to find the answer to that question, we’d have to ask visible migrants and minorities. Maryan Abdulkarim, 31, is a Finn who was born in Somalia, had the opportunity on Friday’s Helsingin Sanomat to answer that question. “Finland is a very racist country,” she said. “It always has been.”
She says that white Finns don’t notice racism in our society because this social ill doesn’t affect them directly. She compares the situation to with those that can’t walk. “If you have two normal-functioning legs, it never crosses your mind what it’s like to move about in a wheelchair in Helsinki,” she said.
And adds: “You have to be in a state of awareness to notice what happens around you. Some react in such a way that they believe they are a bad person if they don’t notice racism [in society]. Others again deny racism and think that acknowledging it makes them racists because they are members of this society.”
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
Abdulkarim, who moved to Finland when she was seven, says that silence isn’t the answer when challenging a social ill like racism.
“We have a very vocal racist group [in Finland],” she said. “Their speech isn’t criticism but heresy, oppression and racism.”
Abdulkarim said that it’s not an isolated incident if a stranger shouts in public at a person by harassing him or her with the n-word. Behind such racism is a culture that makes it possible to use such labels because the perpetrator believes he or she is superior.
She herself has been harassed in this manner and once even spat at for speaking out against such abuse.
Migrant Tales agrees and believes that racism in Finland is a much bigger problem than some Finns, politicians and public officials want to admit.
Such a social ill will continue to find refuge and grow in our society as long as we continue to underestimate and deny its presence.
- The story publihed Thursday on Helsingin Sanomat about Maryan Abdulkarim was translated on Friday into English by Helsinki Times. Read full translation here.