Kotoutuminen* #8: Let’s do away with “us” and “them”

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In many schools where there are people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, they may be asked to participate in “cultural events” where the pupils are obliged to represent their perceived country and or culture.

Is this ok? Is the problem too much emphasis on “us” and “them?”

One matter that gets lost or forgotten in these types of cultural events is if the non-white pupil considers Finland his or her home country.

Certainly, the pupil does not aim to be white but be himself a fully-fledged member of this society under his or her own cultural and ethnic terms.

By emphasizing “us” versus “them” we are excluding and reinforcing that these people are of “foreign background” and belong to some abstract culture they have only experienced through their parents.

In some cases, these cultural events may turn out to be forums to reinforce our stereotypes of our culture and of others.

These cultural events arranged at schools are a reflection of the prejudices and the place non-white people have in our society.

Let’s stop with this racist nonsense and ask non-white pupils to tell about their home country, which is Finland.

See also:

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Racism in Finland? You ain’t seen nothing yet!

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When I came to live permanently in Finland over 40 years ago, people like me were seen as an ethnic anomaly. Sometimes having a different skin color or looking “foreign” meant receiving microaggressions like people shoving your child with a lighted cigarette that burns them, or hearing a perfect stranger saying something racist to you in public.

I know children who aren’t white Finns of hiding from the sun because it darkens their skin. What kind of a society do we live in where children see the sun as something negative because it tans their beautiful brown skins?

The more culturally diverse Finland becomes more racism. The only reason why some Finns believed that there was no racism in the country was that there weren’t enough foreigners or “foreign-looking people” to load off or test how racist they are.

Matters will get worse before they improve.

The hostile environment, political cowardice and the rise of a hostile Islamophobic party are just a few signs on the wayward journey.

Migrant Tales Literary: Yassen Ghaleb – Execution celebration, Teloitusjuhla

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Migrant Tales insight: A couple of days ago with got a message from Yassen Ghaleb, who wants to share his poetry with us. He published a novel, which will be in the Cairo book fair in January and called +15, which highlights how migrants and Finns can find common ground. “In the collection of my poems,” he stated, “I mention the homelessness, [two] homelands, being an outsider, my fears and worries in Finland since I came here in 2015. The poems help me to confront and challenge the many issues I have suffered and still do.”

Ghaleb is a member of Finnish Pen, an organization that promotes freedom of expression in Finland and globally.

Yassen Ghaleb

Execution celebration

An hour ago garden´s locusts

chirped blood to the grass.

It was a playground for little kids.

Later three men,

were there to arrange

their slounched shoulders in line,

Such as breast of slumped dog,

their names alphabetically

in disorder.

It was a coincidence,

that death had no options.

How weak he was ?

despite of his strength.

The hand of life was better

if it protected from bullets.

But in the garden was an event

with grasshoppers.

They played the party of blood,

their skinny legs as violin and bow.

It was no coincidence

that with men

came lumps of flesh

that had died even before

swallowing all the bullets…

at once, without respect of

the doctor/God.

“Emigrant” by Fadhel Dabbagh.

Teloitusjuhla

Runo  Yassen Ghaleb

Suom.  Lauri Vanhala

Tunti sitten puutarhan heinäsirkat

sirittivät verta nurmikolle.

Se oli pienten lasten leikkipaikka.

Myöhemmin kolme miestä

oli siellä järjestelemässä

retkottavia olkapäitään linjaan

romahtaneen koiran rinnalle, nimensä aakkostamattomina   epäjärjestyksessä.

Oli sattuma, ettei kuolemalla

ollut vaihtoehtoja.

Kuinka heikko hän olikaan

huolimatta vahvuudestaan.

Elämän käsi oli parempi

jos se suojasi luoteilta.

Mutta puutarhassa oli tapahtuma

heinäsirkkojen kanssa.

Ne soittivat veren juhlan,

laihat jalkansa viuluna ja jousena.

Ei ollut sattuma,

että miesten mukana

tuli lihan riekaleita,

jotka olivat kuolleet jo aiemmin,

nielaisten kaikki luodit…

kerralla, kunnioittamatta

Jumalten lääkäriä.

I told them once:

I sweared by my honor,

          I didn´t betrayed my homeland.

          I sweared by the dough of dust

          and sweat on my military uniform,

          with I waived bloody and folded.

          Over my smoke and armor-oil

          tainted khaki-shirt,

          which formed a drawn map  

          and lost it´s prestige in defeats,

          I assured.

          I sweared by the Lord of wars, 

          the president, the Prophet,

          the Messenger, the guardian,

          through deity and Mars. 

          And through the one,

          who used to perform

          with his mustaches with Berry…

          loaded with heavy medals

          like thugs I sweared that;

          but bullets were gone.

Sanoin heille kerran:

Vannoin kunniani kautta,

etten pettänyt kotimaatani.

Vannoin savipölytahtaan kautta,

ja hikisen sotilasuniformuni kautta,

jonka luovutin verisenä ja viikattuna.

Yli savun ja panssariöljyn

tahraaman khaki-paitani,

joka muodosti piirretyn kartan

ja menetti arvonsa tappioissa,

minä vakuutin.

Vannoin sotien Herran nimeen,

presidentin, profeetan,

lähettilään, suojelijan,

kautta jumaluuden ja Marsin.

Ja sen yhden kautta,

jolla oli tapana esiintyä

viiksiensä kera Berryn kanssa…

varustautuneena raskailla mitaleilla kuten roistot, minä vannoin sen;

mutta luodit olivat poissa.

———-——————————————

Poets love only themselves

2019  Poem by Yassen Ghaleb

Finnsh.  Lauri Vanhala

1

Do you compose poems?

At least you read them… and if you do

you are a human being.

Trees try to do so in autumn as well

when dropping yellow leaves.

Or that certain summer did it before 

in its green breath sea, 

when saw the wavy blueblooded Stanza

whenever it was murdering

migrants children and dreams

God himself tried it already before

and still we read his poems in Holy places.

Even generals do poetry in battlefields,

or behind the screens and keyboards

by khaki and blood, using the rhymes of death

Businessmen write poems too.

Don´t you believe it?

They sell best, 

they sell their poems well to us.

It was the evolution of man

that did his first poem,

Darwin just didn´t notice.

that the whole univers, butterflies,

waterfalls, ants, bees,

air, birds and even streets,

they all composed poems,

in which politicians always fails.

Runoilijat rakastavat vain itseään 

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Norway’s anti-immigration party exits government

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After the populist anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* was left out in the cold from the government in 2017, the election blow suffered by the Danish People’s Party in 2019, and now the exit of the Progress Party (FrP) from the Norwegian government, the Nordic region is momentarily free of Islamophobic populist parties in government.

After six years and two months as part of Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s government, FrP party leader, Siv Jensen, announced her party’s decision.

Then Finance Minister Siv Jensen landed in hot water in 2017 after posing with a Pocahontas dress and mocking the Saami at a ministry costume party. Source: bydeposten.no.

Apart from differences with the conservatives, the FrP ditched the government because of the repatriation of a woman allegedly linked with Isis and her five-year-old child who needed medical treatment.

Writes the Local: “The Progress Party has strongly criticized the decision, arguing that that the risk of allowing a person linked to Isis into Norway outweighs the country’s humanitarian duty to help the child.”

FrP’s decision will be interesting to watch how it impacts matters in Finland. The government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin has agreed to accept women and their children from the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria on a one-by-one basis.

Even if there are no longer any openly Islamophobic parties in any of the Nordic countries, it does not mean that the threat is over.

In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats lead in the polls as do the PS in Finland.

In the meantime, the news of FrP’s exist from government is good news.

The national media and far-right populism: Maintaining the myth of Finnish innocence with the pillars of exceptionalism

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A good example of how the media maintains the myth of Finnish innocence and its exceptionalism is how it plays down the impact of the Perussuomalaiset* (PS) party on the country’s far-right journey.

Helsingin Sanomat’s Marko Junkkari appears a lot on TV talk shows to give his opinion of current events. He recently appeared on Yle with media researcher Anu Koivunen. In their analysis of former PS leader Timo Soini, neither of them said anything about how the former PS leader was instrumental in giving the far right a platform to expand its political agenda.

Yle talk-show host Heikki Valkaman talking to Anu Koivunen and Marko Junkkari. Source: Yle.

Moreover, neither Koivunen or Junkkari explained the impact that the PS has had on Finland, especially on Muslims, people of color and minorities in general.

It appears that the best analysis that Junkkari could offer about the PS was when the party was under Soini’s leadership.

“I have explained a hundred times to foreign correspondents that the Perussuomalaiset under Timo Soini is a different populist party than those in France and Sweden,” said Junkkari.

True, but why didn’t you give us your opinion on how the PS has shifted further to the right under Halla-aho and what was Soini’s role in the latter?

The only explanation I can find is how too many Finnish journalists and the media mirror Finnish innocence and exceptionalism.

Is the PS today a far-right party? History researcher Oula Silvenoinen has some academic views about this.

Not all far-right parties are the same but they are bonded ideologically by their Islamophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric as well as their anti-EU stances.

Does the Finnish police really care about online hate speech?

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A total of 31 ethnic agitation cases were placed on the desk of the public prosecutor in 2019, which is a 59.2% drop from 76 cases in the previous year, according to Yle.

The number of ethnic agitation cases looks even more somber if we compare them with the cases that ended up in court. In 2016, only 11.9% ended up in court; the corresponding figure for 2017 and 2018 was 16.7% and 58.1%, respectively.


Ethnic agitation cases that ended up in district court in 2018. Even if such cases rose by 138.5% last year to 31, it is still only the microscopic tip of the iceberg. Source: Justice Ministry.
The number of ethnic agitation cases brought to the public prosecutor during 2016-2018.

Like hate crime and ethnic agitation cases, reporting sexual assault cases face the same challenges.

If Green League MP Iris Suomela is to be believed, she said in parliament in September that there are “hundreds of thousands” rape cases in Finland, of which 50,000 are reported annually to Victim Support Finland (RIKU). Of these, the police record about 1,200 cases of which around 200 get sentences.

Yle blames the lack of funding for the sharp drop in ethnic agitation cases investigated by the police.

“One reason is that the police don’t investigate online hate speech as actively as before,” Yle reports. In 2017, funds were earmarked to the police to recruit more police to investigate, among other matters, online hate speech.”

The number of online police officers has been scaled back. Police inspector Måns Enqvist of the National Board of Police of Finland said that there at the most 10 online police officers monitoring hate speech.

In the face of rising hate speech and ethnic friction, it is bad news for migrants and minorities in Finland.

Apart from funding, an important question we could ask is if the police prioritize hate crime cases and if they care. Sure, we can hear all the lip service about how the police have zero tolerance for racism, but in many cases, some of their actions speak louder than words.

Below are some incidents that eat away at police credibility and their standing in our culturally diverse community:

In the light of a drop in funds to investigate online hate crime and the questionable record of the police concerning racism among its ranks, there is only one conclusion: Online hate crime isn’t a high-priority issue for the police that exposes society’s exceptionalism.

The only person who is oblivious to Timo Soini the politician is Timo Soini

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Former Perussuomnalaiset chairperson Timo Soini reappeared from obscurity on Tuesday with the launching of his book on populism called “Populismi.” My initial reaction was that I had not missed at all and his round-about and apologist soundbites and arguments.

He states with his usual poker face: “My opinion about humanity is that every person is valuable irrespective of his race, religion, or ethnic background.”

A good cartoon of Soini would be of him at some Nazi extermination camp where he states in his usual style that he is against all the mass killing of Jews but does nothing to stop it.

Former Perussuomalaiset chairperson Timo Soini got his fingers burned by the very party he helped grow. A politician who is a master opportunist, Soini’s comeback to Finnish politics suffered a fatal blow in June 2017, when Jussi Halla-aho was elected as chairperson of the party. Source: Yle A-studio.

He continues: “I am against any self-indulgent speech and such rumblings about people through hate speech and the like.”

Then Soini puts on his usual they-done-it mask: “[b]ut if people are worried that if tens of thousands of people [Muslims] will do to Finland if they come here, their worries are justified.”

The interesting question to ask about Soini’s resurfacing is why the media, starting with Helsingin Sanomat, treats him with kid gloves. Writes an editorial of Finland’s most important daily: “He’s like a passage of Hameln’s Folk Tale of Fables: When he plays the flute, the media follows.”

It is incredible how Helsingin Sanomat offers in an editorial such a sanitized view of a man that brought populism and racist politicians mainstream politics.

Certainly, Soini’s brand of opportunistic does not directly affect some white Finnish journalists in the same way as Muslims and other minorities in this country.

Just like we bid farewell and good riddance to Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government, the same wish goes to Soini.