Please explain, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, what does “Finland isn’t a racist country” mean?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Standing together with four other Nordic prime ministers, Juha Sipilä states that Finland isn’t a racist country, according to YLE in English. I’m a bit baffled by Sipilä’s statement. What does Finland “not being a racist country” actually mean? 

Is he saying that racism doesn’t exist? Does his claim mean that it’s under control? Does it mean that we have racism and the prime minister is ashamed by it?

Or is it denial that such a social ill is one of the biggest challenges we have as our society becomes ever-culturally diverse?

We don’t know because the statement doesn’t give us too many clues.

Sipilä also claimed at the press conference that all of the Nordic countries “are international, open and tolerant.”

Taking into account recent election results in Denmark and Finland, one could debate the prime minister’s claim.

The only prime minister at the press conference that could be considered “international, open and tolerant” is Stefan Lofven of Sweden. Norway, Denmark and Finland all have populist and anti-cultural diversity parties that could be described as “xenophobic, closed and intolerant.”

Who are they?  The Perussuomalaiset (PS)* of Finland, the Danish People’s Party and the Progress Party of Norway.

All three of these parties base their political support on anti-cultural diversity sentiment, excluding and victimizing migrants and minorities and encouraging that they be kept on short leashes.

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Why have we seen in recent years the rise of populist parties in the Nordic region that are xenophobic and hostile to cultural diversity if we “are open, international and tolerant?”

Is it denial and too little too late action to challenge social ills like racism?

Take for example Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö’s track record on cultural diversity and his statements on the humanitarian crisis. It is disingenuous of him to claim that he’s concerned today about the racism and violence in our society. His silence, indifference and lack of leadership are reasons why matters have gotten worse.

Sipilä may say that his government condemns racism and violence, which is a good matter, but at the same time he shares power with a populist party that attributes its political rise to Islamophobia and spreading suspicion of migrants and minorities.

All this adds up to are wishy-washy politics on racism.

A good example of the latter is when Prime Minister Sipilä showed leadership in early September by offering his home to refugees but then backtracked by stating that asylum seekers coming to Finland are an even bigger problem than the economy.

Finland’s pitiful abstention on the distribution of  120,000 refugees under a EU plan is another example of a vacillating signal.

In light of the perilous political journey that Finland has been on in recent years with the rise of the PS, stating that”we’re not a racist country” shows how much in the dark the prime minister and the government are about such a social ill.

That, I believe, is what Sipilä means when he states that “Finland isn’t a racist country.”

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.