Permanent secretary of the interior ministry, Päivi Nerg, was quoted as saying in Verkkouutiset that she is “really offended” at the Evangelical Church of Finland for mixing and questioning the country’s asylum policy.
According to the story, Nerg, who was briefly a member of the Christian Democratic Party and considers herself to be “fundamentally a Finnish Lutheran Christian,” said that she asked herself if the reaction by the Evangelical Church of Finland was because it questioned Finland’s justice system.
“I don’t think it is the Church’s role in any way [to mix in what the government does],” she said.
Even if the story didn’t mention any members of the Evangelical Church of Finland, Nerg was referring to a pastor called Marjaana Toiviainen, who has been especially outspoken against the country’s asylum policy and who with other protestors tried to stop the deportation of an Afghan family in early April.
After coming out initially as a sensible public servant stressing calm in the face of over 30,000 asylum seekers that came to Finland in 2015, Nerg has become the cold heart of the country’s draconian asylum policy. She has gone as far as to ask the Evangelical Church and Finns to not help undocumented migrants in sub-freezing weather because “it sends the wrong message.”
“No one is illegal as a human being,” she was quoted as saying in Helsinki Times in January 2017. “However, I wouldn’t want to create a system in Finland that treats those who are here illegally the same way as those who are here legally. It’d be wrong both to those who live here and to those who have been granted a residence permit.”
Read the full story (in Finnish) here.
Like many Finnish officials, Nerg doesn’t mind getting tough on asylum seekers and even fear-mongers occasionally by spreading urban tales about immigrants. She recently warned that Finland could have “no-go” zones like in Sweden, according to Jussi Korhonen’s blog.
While Swedish officials have denied such allegations because they simply don’t exist and are a myth pushed by anti-immigration politicians, the UN experts recently suggested that there are “no-go” zones for blacks in Germany, according to The Local.
Instead of questioning myths and setting the record straight about migrants and cultural diversity, National Police Commissioner Seppo Kolehminen ducked a question by a journalist on YLE’s A-teema “no-go” zones in Sweden. His answer said nothing about such zones but stated instead that the head of the Swedish police told him that “Finland should not commit the same mistakes as Sweden.”
Finland’s asylum policy is one of the strictest in Europe and in the same league as Greece, United Kingdom, France and Bulgaria.
According to Eurostat, 34% of first-time applicants for asylum in the fourth quarter of 2016 got positive decisions in Finland while the average for the EU-28 was 61%. Of all the Nordic EU-EFTA countries, Finland and Iceland, with 11% favorable decisions, had the highest rejection rates when compared with Sweden (76%), Denmark (46%), Norway (61%).
The countries that had the highest favorable decisions for first-time applicants in the period under review were Malta (84%) and Luxembourg (83%) with the worst being Hungary (3%) and Poland (14%).
Even if the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) denies it, Migri has been accused of giving in to political pressure from the government. One of the members of the right-wing government, the Perussuomalaiset* party, is an openly anti-immigration and xenophobic party that sees cultural diversity as a threat.
One of Interior Minister Paula Risikko’s favorite catchphrases justifying Finland’s tough asylum policy is the need to “discourage asylum seekers from coming here.”
Some asylum seekers who came to Finland were attracted intitially by the good education system, security and respect for human rights. For many of them, however, Finland turned out a deception. Many regret coming to Finland today because in countries like Sweden their chances of getting asylum would have been much better.
Some see Finland’s restrictive asylum policy politically motivated since it hinges to a large degree on the PS, which suffered a stinging defeat in the April 9 municipal elections. In order to lure back the voters that the party lost, it has taken an ever-stronger stand against migrants and the EU.
The PS will hold elections on June 10-11 to chose a new chairman as Timo Soini, who has led the party since 1997, steps down.
Halla-aho was sentenced in 2012 for ethnic agitation and breaching the sanctity of religion.
* The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well 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 thereafter the acronym PS.