Slow due justice – if any – plaguing racialized communities of Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Hate speech, hate crime, and racism appear to rank low on police’s priority list. Many people who have turned to the police to report such a crime are usually surprised by the following fact: slow response and reaction; your case may never see the light of a day in court.

A shameful case is that of Fares Al-Obaidl, a young Muslim who was attacked in June by a group of enraged townspeople of Teuva, located in Western Finland.

Nine months have gone by that terrible incident that changed Al-Obaidl’s life, and no charges have been brought against anyone.

“What happened to me changed my life,” he said. “I have to take sleeping pills and for stress and depression.”

Al-Obaidl said in December: “The fact that I know nothing about my case [and the charges] gives me the impression that what happened to me isn’t important to the police. Those who attacked me are walking freely with no consequences.”

“Helsinki City Councilor Fatima Diarra states in one of the tweets below that whenever she is racially harassed, since 2007, she has always filed a complaint to the police since they go nowhere.

She continues in the second tweet: “I got information from the police last Friday that one of these cases will be dropped. With this type of [racist] harassment, [the perpetrators] try to scare you or silence brown and black people. But dear ones, we are not going anywhere. Finland is our home.”

Source: Twitter

Yle’s Somali-language newsreader Ujuni Ahmed is another unfortunate case where racist harassment was dropped by the police and state prosecutor because “the case was too minor to be investigated further,” according to Yle News.

Writes Yle News: “Ahmed had commented on a publicly-visible Instagram post by singer Janna Hurmerinta, which had led to a long thread of comments about cultural appropriation. Among other things, Ahmed wrote that harmful patterns of behavior are often unconscious and should be talked about more in Finland.

In reply to Ahmed’s comment, another Instagram user wrote a reply using the Finnish word “neekeri“, a derogatory term equivalent to the n-word in English.”

If I had to report many of these types of cases, I’d need to write a book of many volumes.

Racist harassment, hate speech, and hate crime are treated in many respects like sexual harassment.

Green League MP Iris Suomela said in parliament in 2019 that there are “hundreds of thousands” rape cases in Finland, of which only 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.

One question is why the police appear to take racist crimes not that seriously. The answer that may appear is seated in institutional racism and white Finnish privilege and denial.