Roma anti-discrimination campaign by DIAK but offers nothing concrete

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Video clips published by a program managed by the Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (DIAK) a privately owned university whose main shareholders are church foundations and institutions, launched a video with Finnish celebrities who were seeking jobs with Roma surnames. 

The videos, in which Tuomas Enbuske and Jari Sarasvuo appear among two other women, tell us something that the Roma have known for hundreds of years: discrimination and social exclusion. Both persons in the video appear surprised, even disappointed when nobody called them back for a job interview.

While these types of campaigns are good, they fall short fall short in providing us with tools and steps on how o challenge and eradicate such a serious social ill.

Why didn’t Enbuske and Sarasvuo ask why our response as a society to discrimination is so weak? Why aren’t there enough resources and, most importantly, the will to tackle such social ills?

Moreover, I do not see Enbuske and Sarasvuo as champions of anti-discrimination who understand the role of cultural diversity in our society.

Enbuske, who has hosted television talk shows, has invited some of the most questionable racists on his show like James Hirvisaari, a former MP convicted for ethnic agitation, and people like Lenita Airisto, who scolded a Somali woman on his show that “you have come to my country, Finland is my country, and has taken you in with open arms…”

In one of his TV talk shows, Enbuske had to take down the headline and was reprimanded in 2015 by the Council for Mass Media (JSN). The questionable headline, which labelled all Somalis as “rapists,” posted by a subcontractor that MTV3 uses to advertise their programs.

Tuomas Enbuske

Jari Sarasvuo

Like Enbuske, Sarasvuo has said some pretty incredible things as well that put into question his views on discrimination.

In 2015, he was quoted as saying on a Helsingin Sanomat TV talk show (HSTV) that Finnish culture had the right to protect itself from Islam.

While it is unclear what Sarasvuo meant to say, did he mean that about 32,000 asylum seekers that came to Finland were a threat to Finnish culture? Did he want to say that it was acceptable to discriminate and undermine religious freedom against Muslims because this would give protection against such a religious group?

On the same program that Sarasvuo appeared on HSTV, Jari Ehrnrooth said that people from Islamic countries could never adapt to our Western way of life because they “live a thousand years” behind us.

Neither the hosts nor Sarasvuo raised any objections to what Erhrnooth said.

While it’s important to raise awareness, DIAK could, however, gone further by exposing structural racism in our society and how to tackle and eradicate it.