Oulu’s knee-jerk reaction to the sexual assault crimes will do a lot of harm to the city’s image. Blame the media, police, politicians.

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The question Migrant Tales asked a while back if the City of Oulu’s decision to ban visits by asylum seekers to child care centers and schools is legal. Can you ban a single group, in this case, asylum seekers, from visiting such places? As far as how the law works in Finland, the ban should apply to everyone and not to one specific group.

As we all know, the ban is due to the sexual assault cases where some 16 “persons of migrant background” – code for asylum seeker, Muslim, non-EU nationals – are suspects.

We got in touch with the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman about this and have yet to get a call back from them.

The same goes for the City of Oulu’s Director of Education and Culture Mika Penttilä. He has not called back after repeated phone calls.

Section 6 of the Constitution states the following:  “Everyone is equal before the law. No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.”

How should we interpret Section 6 of the Constitution? If there is a ban, like the one in Oulu, it must apply to everyone.

The ban, which is an overreaction and I believe illegal, is making Oulu trip over itself due to a lack of political leadership and the parliamentary elections in April.

An elementary school in Oulu was the target of recent attacks on social media due to a false rumor that asylum seekers had visited the school. Kello School principal, Timo Soini, said that the attacks amounted to threats and insults, according to Yle.

Read the full story (in Finnish) here.

“Two women and a man visited [the school] last week who were of multicultural origin and Finnish citizens,” said Soini. “They have lived in Finland all their lives and came to give talks to middle school students about discrimination and racism.”

For a principle having to explain why “non-white people” visit the school is a worrying sign in which red lights are flashing conspicuously.

How do you think Oulu’s reputation will suffer in light of how the city has reacted to the sexual assault crimes? Would you invest or move to such a city? Will international events be held?

Probably some.

Mayor Päivi Laajala states on the city’s official website:

“On behalf of our community of about 200 000 people, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the City of Oulu, Finland. Oulu combines Northern hospitality, nature and culture with modern technology. Oulu values education, research and innovation and we are extremely pleased to welcome everyone to contribute to these dynamics. I hope that you will have time to explore the Oulu region, make new friends, exchange ideas and feel at home in Oulu.”

If Oulu appears paranoid about asylum seekers, we should ask why.

One culprit is the media. A Migrant Tales story revealed that from November 27 to February 13, Yle alone had published 77 stories on the topic. On one day (January 14), it had published 13 stories.

The police have not made the life of the Muslim community of Oulu and elsewhere easy by going to great lengths to racilalize the sexual assault cases. Even if the police has said that nobody should take the law in their hands, Muslims don’t feel safe in Oulu. According to one source, they avoid going to the city center for fear of being attacked.

Since September 2017, the mosque in Oulu was vandalized 9 times. The latest attack happened on February 26.

The mosque in Oulu was vandalized eight times since September 2017.

Last but not least are the politicians. I am not only talking about those of the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset* party, which are attempting to get the most political mileage from what happened in Oulu, but mainstream ones like the National Coalition Party (NCP) that should better. NCP Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen is threatening to pass laws that will strip naturalized Finns of their citizenship if convicted for a serious crime like sexual assault.

The government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä published this week a plan that is supposed to put a lid on immigrant crime.

Forensic psychologist Tom Pakkanen was highly critical of such plans.

“I wouldn’t give [Wednesday’s government press conference] terribly high marks,” he said. “I have to say it was mostly disappointing. The focus was wrong. The first 15 minutes was straight-up immigration politics.”

The other culprit worth pointing out is the April 14 parliamentary elections. Everyone is jockeying for attention from voters.

The handling of the sexual assault cases by the media, police and politicians could be described in two words: racist and disappointing.

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.

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