What’s at stake for persons of foreign origin in Sunday’s Finnish municipal elections?

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The Foreign Scholars Forum, a forum for foreign scholars of all disciplines living and working in Finland, convened a Zoom panel discussion June 5th to which members of all the main political parties and groups were invited.  The keynote topics for the event were immigration and climate change.

Next to the debate, a fascinating and thought-provoking documentary on climate change was aired, giving the participants a deeper view of the issue. How do different views on dealing with the environmental crisis contribute to it directly and indirectly, and why is it important to change course.


Strange Season directed by Ahti Tolvanen was aired during the panel discussion.

Attending were municipal candidates Matti Mäkelä of the Vasemmistoliitto (Left Alliance), Espoo, and Enrique Tessieri, Social Democrats, Mikkeli.

Also present were three Helsinki councilors running for re-election: Ted Apter, Kokoomus (National Coalition Party), Simon Granroth, Swedish Party (RKP), and Mika Ebling of the Christian Democratic Party. 

Anu Harkki, Helsinki Greens, was unable to attend but consented to an interview beforehand.

The Perussuomalaiset (The Finns Party) failed to show up, and the Center Party’s candidate also never materialized.

Regarding the question of immigrants providing a solution to labor shortages in many parts of the country, Ebling said he felt this situation had been worsened by liberal abortion laws, which meant 600 000 births had been aborted, greatly impacting the country’s demographics.

He was also skeptical about the need for the extensive measures which were being taken to address climate change and felt the Earth had extensive adaptive capacity.

Both Granroth and Apter took exception to the second point and said an extensive scientific consensus confirmed the reality of the climate crises. Mäkelä was particularly emphatic about the seriousness of the climate issue.

He added that the deportation of asylum seekers to the violent circumstances of Afghanistan was morally wrong. Mäkelä mentioned his own volunteer work providing accommodation to an asylum seeker from that country and said he was only one of many Finns involved in this.

Anu Harkki stated in her interview that the climate crisis was such a pervasive global event that Finland could not hope to close its borders from environmental refugees.  She stressed the need for effective settlement programs to allow newcomers to integrate. She took exception with housing for newcomers in green spaces in Helsinki, although some Greens favored it.

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Roma activist and Young European of the Year Leif Hagert: Now is the time to challenge discrimination

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Finland’s Romany population got a rude reminder of the racism and ethnic profiling women from that group have to endure daily. You’d think that a country like Finland, which claims to uphold Nordic values, knows that ethnic profiling is not only illegal and insulting to the individual and group.

Migrant Tales has maintained for a long time that if the media were serious about the racist treatment that some people endure in this country, they have abundant evidence from the country’s 10,000-strong Romany minority.

While there is abundant evidence about racism against the Roma, the interesting question is why has it continued for so long, and why has the response of the authorities and politicians been so lukewarm?


Leif Hagert was named the Young European of the Year in May. Hagert, who has been outspoken on Roma rights in Finland, states that the Roma made history on Saturday when they demonstrated against ethnic profiling by security guards at markets. The name of the demonstration was “The Right to Breathe.” The Roma started to speak out against discrimination in the 1970s.

Hagert told Migrant Tales by phone that the time to react to discrimination in Finland is now.

“Discrimination against the Roma must be addressed by others apart from the Roma. Together, we must break the current culture of allowing [people and authorities] to treat the Roma as they please,” said Hagert. “Structural racism requires the intervention of decision-makers. Words alone are not enough. Action is needed.”

True, Hagert. Our first and foremost response to discrimination and racism is a reaction.

USAmerica’s colonial legacy in Latin America is like Africa for Europe

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I was shocked but not surprised when US Vice President Kamala Harris warned would-be Guatemalans fleeing corruption, violence, and poverty. What Harris said in Guatemala was shameful and dishonest.

“I want to be clear to folks in the region who make that dangerous trek to the Unites States-Mexican border – do not come, do not come,” she was quoted as saying in The Guardian. “The United States will continue to enforce our laws and secure our border. There are legal methods by which migration should and can occur. But one of our priorities is to discourage illegal migration, and I believe if you to our border, you will be turned back.”

Harris’ warning was shrouded by US hegemony in the region with a lack of historical context.

There is a reason why Central American countries like Guatemala are known as banana republics.


A video clip showing what happened to former Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz for challenging the United Fruit Company of Boston.

Even if Vice President Harris suffers from a bout of historic amnesia, the US under Ronald Reagan was responsible for giving the green light to former General Efraín Ríos Montt, who was tried and convicted of genocide and war crimes that left an estimated 200,000 dead.

According to The Center for Justice & Accountability, “General Efraín Ríos Montt came to power in Guatemala through a coup in March 1982. A month later, he launched a “scorched earth” operation against the country’s Ixil Maya population. Under Ríos Montt’s dictatorship, the army and its paramilitary units systematically annihilated over 600 villages.”

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Onko Perussuomalaisten tekopyhyydellä “jotain rajaa?”

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Kaksi kuvaa, jotka kertovat paljon siitä keitä ovat Perussuomalaiset. Kuvissa on tuomittuja kuntavaaliehdokkaita törkeästä lapsen seksuaalisesta hyväksikäytöstä parituksesta ja petoksista. Perussuomalaiset vakuuttavat, että heillä kuitenkin on “jotain rajaa.” 

Missä se raja on?



Sitten tekopyhyys saa vauhtia kun Helsingin Perussuomalaiset julkaisivat mainoksen jossa näkyy nainen burkassa. Vaikka burkaan-pukeutuvia naisia voi Suomessa laskea sormilla. Mainos antaa ymmärtää ettei burkan käyttö voisi olla vapaaehtoista.

Tasa-arvo tarkoittaa todennäköisesti Perussuomalaisille sitä, ettei sinulla ole oikeus käyttää huivia, niqab, burka tai olla muslimi, koska perussuomalaiset miehet tietävät paremmin.

Rasismi riehuu Suomessa ja erityisen paljon Perussuomalaisessa puolueessa.



The media must fact-check what xenophobic politicians spread and claim

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THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

It is a good sign that some Finnish media like Yle are fact-checking what politicians say. However, it is a bit too late because the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* have built their popularity on making false claims about migrants.

I’m pretty certain that if we were to do a fact-check on all the claims about migrants since 2010, most of them would be false, grossly exaggerated, and outright lies.

In just a matter of a week, PS chairperson Jussi Halla-aho, who was convicted in 2012 for ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion, got called out for making false statements about migrants.

One of these false statements made by Halla-aho recently was that low-wage workers come to Finland, work for a few months, and then quit their jobs and live off social welfare. This is totally false.

Halla-aho made another false statement when he stated that one-third of income, housing benefit recipients are immigrants.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the books used against journalists by xenophobic politicians is the following:  A politician makes an outrageous claim to a journalist, who doesn’t even bother to question its veracity. Eventually, the journalist may do some investigating and find out that he or she was fed malarkey. By then it’s too late because the story is already out there.


Read the full story here.

For the PS, migrants and foreigners are a non-stop obsession. Some, like Halla-aho, have built their political career on victimizing, bashing, and spreading racist lies and exaggerations about migrants.

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The PS exposed its far-right credentials. After they get rid of the Muslims, are unions the next in line?

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Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, exposed another spoonful of its ever-visible far-right credentials on Saturday by demanding a 3,000-euro a month salary minimum for migrants to get a residence permit and weakening workers’ rights.

The PS leader, who was convicted in 2012 for ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion, believed that the best way to lower unemployment would be cutbacks in unemployment security, watering down protection against dismissal, do away with national collective bargaining agreements and undermine employers the right to strike.

Considering Halla-aho’s racist views of migrants in general and Muslims in particular, his views to dismantle Finland’s welfare state do not come as a surprise.

Even if the PS is leading in opinion polls, the party’s biggest folly will be at the end of the day their racist and neo-conservative economic views.

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Wael Cheblak aims to be a strong voice for Helsinki immigrants

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Migrant Tales insight: Wael Cheblak, who is running for Helsinki city council, is an old and esteemed activist of Migrant Tales. While we do not endorse candidates in general, we sometimes make exceptions like in the case of Cheblak. If you vote for 1108 you vote for Wael Cheblak.


Integration of vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities is important. Immigrants have different knowledge and skills. We should promote immigrants’ access to the labor market and education that will further improve their skills. 

We must strive to make information about opportunities and services available to all citizens. 

Safely, well-being and local services belong to every Helsinki resident. Are you to build a better tomorrow? Vote for an exemplary multicultural Helsinki with equal rights for all. 

Wael Chblak, 1108

Falling into Finland’s ever-deepening pit of conflict and hypocrisy

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The Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party is the biggest threat to our Nordic welfare state and democracy. Their xenophobic ideology reveals a noticeable conflict.

Gunnar Myrdal (1898.1987), a Swedish economist who did a groundbreaking study in the early 1940s about its racism, brought this dilemma to light:

“How can they [USAmericans] claim to respect the dignity of all persons, equality, and the inalienable rights to freedom, justice, and a fair opportunity, while countenancing pervasive violations of the dignity of blacks and their rights to that freedom, that justice, and that fair opportunity?”

In the same light, we can ask to whom and how social equality, one of our Nordic welfare state pillars, applies to migrants and minorities? Do these noble values apply to Muslims, people of color, and other visible migrants and minorities? Are we also living in a conflict where we preach one thing but do the opposite?

Take, for instance, one of PS’s first vice-president Riikka Purra’s reaction Fardowsa Mahamoud’s decision not to do military service because the hijab, or veil, is still prohibited.

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