Migrant Tales launches a new column called “hindsight.” The aim of the column is to look at stories in the media and how the authorities shrug their shoulders hoping that a particular story, which may cause some em embarrassment or put them in an awkward position will be be forgotten for good. The column aims as well to ask why the media doesn’t ask serious questions about cases involving migrants and why important stories are forgotten by the media.
Two stories published by Migrant Tales revealed how the Keuruu asylum reception center prohibited religious and cultural celebrations. Both of the reception centers are run by the Red Cross.
The story published in Migrant Tales, which was mentioned in Jyväskylä-based daily Keskisuomalainen, quotes the Keuruu center’s manager, Rasul Azizan, as saying that religion is “a personal matter” and therefore asylum seekers cannot practice their faith at the camp.
Let’s go back again and see what Keskisuomalainen actually quoted Azizian as saying:
“The asylum seekers at the reception center cannot practice their own religion [at the center] but following one’s faith is a personal matter and nobody can infringe on such a right.”
Does this statement published in Keskisuomalainen make sense?
There appear to be two important questions here:
1) shall a center be obliged to have a place of worship within its facilities for religious practices;
2) Do applicants have the right the express their faith in this premise?
Even if there is no law that requires an asylum center to set aside a room where a certain faith can be practiced, it’s clear that such facilities encourage integration and make such a center more governable. This discourages internal conflicts.
Concerning the second question, do asylum seekers have the right to express their faith in the reception center, the answer is a clear yes. The right to practice one faith cannot be undermined and it is an inalienable human and civil right.
So what to do? Azizan and the Red Cross want the story to die. They don’t consider the issue of practicing one’s religion at the center to be an issue even if it is, in my opinion, and infringement of their right to religious freedom.
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
Just for the record, Migrant Tales was in touch with Mikkeli-based daily Länsi-Savo about the following incident that took place on October 2:
If the account of the asylum seekers residing at the Suosaari asylum reception center is true, a red SUV tried to run over three men returning by bicycle to the reception center on Sunday at 2-2:30am. The men were threatened and attacked by white Finns in the SUV with an ax and shovel. Länsi-Savo interviews the police officer handling the case, who doesn’t mention anything about any ax and shovel.
Migrant Tales got in touch with police officer Johanna Parviainen who was quoted as saying the following in Länsi-Savo: “Apparently, due to the darkness, the driver didn’t notice the bike riders on the road. That turned into a situation where one of the bike riders fell off his bike even if the driver attempted to dodge them.”
On Thursday I finally got in touch with Parviainen after many calls. I asked her a simple question: “The asylum seekers who were involved in the incident claim that the men in the SUV attacked them with an ax and shovel. Why didn’t you mention this to Länsi-Savo?”
“I don’t remember. I will have to check,” she said concerning if an ax or shovel form part of what happened.
I told Parviainen if I could call her tomorrow so she could confirm or deny what the asylum seekers claimed.
She agreed that I could call her Friday afternoon.
Do you know what happened? Right. I wasn’t able to get in touch with her on Friday because she didn’t answer my calls and message I left her.
Migrant Tales will continue to call Parviainen and get an answer from her.