Oulu has turned Finland into a more hostile place for migrants, especially Muslims 

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A journalist asked me what I thought about the reaction of the politicians to the sexual assault cases in Oulu. Certainly, any sensible person would condemn such acts. But what could we say about the politicians and the media?

My answer: The reaction of the politicians and the media is a clear sign of Finland’s ever-worsening hostile environment for migrants, especially Muslims.

A number of studies published last year, like the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, revealed that out of 12 EU countries studied, Finland was the most hostile to blacks. Racism is an issue in Finland as it is in other parts of Europe.

One may ask why is there a growing hostile environment in this country against migrants and minorities?

The answer is right under our noses: Not challenging our prejudices effectively enough and the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party in 2011. Even if the PS imploded in June, Blue Reform continues to beat the same hostile drum against Muslims.

The PS are the first modern party that vowed to “solve the Somali problem” in Finland.

Is this the bottom line for understanding what happened in Oulu?

In light of the sexual assault cases in Oulu and Helsinki, Blue Reform, which has five ministers in Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government, is ratcheting up and returning to its old populist ways by suggesting changes in Section 9 of the Constitution. The Section states: “A foreigner shall not be deported, extradited or returned to another country, if in consequence he or she is in danger of a death sentence, torture or other treatment violating human dignity.”

Moreover, apart from labelling all undocumented asylum seekers as potential criminals, they want Finland to follow the footsteps of Denmark, which aims to confine asylum seekers and who they consider potential threats to the country on a small island.

Why Denmark? Because the PS and Blue Reform have a not-so-secret secret love affair with the Islamophobic Danish People’s Party.

If Finland implemented Blue Reform’s suggestions, they would be in clear violation of EU law, the European Council and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

What makes the matter even more tragic is that the Blue Reform has only about 2% support in opinion polls.

Finland claims to have the best education system in the world and invests billions annually in this sector. It is also proud of its democratic institution and press freedom. Even so, too many politicians lose themselves in their racism and rage, signalling in code to their followers to lynch migrants on social media and harass them in public.

As lawmakers, where is their understanding of due process?

Can you generalize about a whole group due to 16 suspects in detention? I doubt it but if you have racist views this is possible.

While tougher laws are important and more financial resources to combat sexual assault, we should ask what we want to signal with harsher laws. Do we want to make Finland a more hostile place for migrants and minorities or more inclusive?

Sexual assault on anyone, especially minors and children, is unacceptable. So is using these terrible cases to further your political career by making this country more hostile to newcomers.

The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017 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 never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way. 

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.