Posts Tagged: Cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is still a challenge in the Finnish education system

An article in Yle News brings us back again to one of the biggest challenges for multilingual children at Finnish schools: How the Finnish education system treats cultural diversity. Language and cultural interpreter and early childhood educator Nadezda Kärmeniemi admitted that multilingual children are caught between differing attitudes at schools. She is saying that there

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The more proof that labor discrimination is king in Finland, the less is done to tackle the problem

Racism is such a big issue in Finland that even white people are discriminated. Another news story. Another example. You will lose out in the Finnish labor market if you don’t have a Finnish name. If there is overwhelming proof that this type of discrimination takes place, why does it continue? Why aren’t there any

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Dismantle institutional racism and myths if you want people to adapt to Finland

The ongoing discussion in Finland about our ever-growing cultural and ethnic diversity is grounded on two misleading assertions that hide the core problem: language is the magic bullet to become a part of society, and white Finnish society is innocent – if you don’t adapt it’s because of you. Heikki Turkka of Children of the

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The magic word for Finland’s future success rests on change and inclusion

Finland is in a bind, and we have heard these for a long time: Finland’s population is aging, and there is an ever-growing need for foreign labor. Our answer to these challenges is not only disappointing but leaving our future to chance.  Why is there such a negative and suspicious attitude towards foreigners in Finland?

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Leadership in promoting social equality and challenging racism will strengthen Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government

I, if anyone, wishes Finland’s new prime minister, Sanna Marin, the best of luck and success. Someone asked me a while back what I thought about former Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s government and if it signalled major improvements and changes in immigration policy and in fighting racism. My answer was short: It all depends on

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Helsingin Sanomat is still a predominantly white newspaper with a white slant on things

Helsingin Sanomat, the country’s biggest daily, celebrated its 130th anniversary on Saturday. Congratulations on your important anniversary but the picture below reinforces what I knew about the daily and Finnish mainstream media in general: It’s too white. Considering that Helsingin Sanomat is the newspaper of Finland’s capital Helsinki, it is surprising that there are no

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Newly appointed ombudswoman for children talks only about the plight of white children

The headline of the newly appointed Ombudswoman for Children, Elina Pekkarinen, says it all: “the new Ombudswoman for Children knows the needs of Finnish children. OK, fair enough. Newspapers decide on the wording of the headline. Even so, there is not one word mentioned how the new ombudswoman will protect the rights and situation of non-white Finnish children. 

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Finland knows that it is in demographic hot water but leaves its future woes to chance

A new forecast by Statistics Finland tells us what we’ve known for a long time: We are in demographic hot water and our population will start to shrink and get older, according to YLE News. Net immigration will maintain present population levels at 5.6 million until 2035, but will decline to 5.5 million in the 2050s. 

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: How anti-diversity and Islamophobic is Finland?

“One of the big denials that one still hears a lot in Finland is its denial of the rise of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, an Islamophobic party that won 39 seats in the parliamentary elections of 2011 from just 5 MPs in previously. There was an ongoing debate after 2011 within the PS on what caused its historic election victory. Then party leader Timo Soini claimed it was anti-EU sentiment while its present leader, Jussi Halla-aho, claimed it was the PS’ Islamophobic stance. 

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Pressiklubi gives simplistic, apologetic view on how the Finnish media is “more balanced” today when writing about non-white Finns

It is surprising to hear how some politicians and journalists continue to have simplistic and apologetic views of racism and bigotry in this country. If YLE’s Päivi Happonen and Atte Kaleva’s words are to be believed on Pressiklubi, the Finnish media has finally woken up and writes more balanced stories about migrants and minorities that live in Finland. 

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THE LONG INTERVIEW: Rebecka Holm, the adolescent who spoke out against racism, yesterday and today

Rebecka Holm is the brave adolescent from Helsinki, who in 2012 spoke out against the racist harassment she regularly experienced on the way to school. She got fed up with the situation and wrote a letter to the Swedish daily, HBL, denouncing what she and her friends experienced too often. “If Finland is now the most

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Exposing white Finnish privilege #47: President Sauli Niinistö’s “culture inside four walls”

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED Instead of showing leadership and giving a public face to our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse non-white society, President Sauli Niinistö does the opposite again. I have said it before and I wil say it again: President Niinistö is no friend of non-white Finland.  In an interview on YLE, Niinistö gave

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Why isn’t there any street in Finland named after Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959)?

Here’s a very simple question: Why isn’t there in Finland any street named after Rosa Emilia Clay, the first African naturalized Finn in 1899? There is no street in Tampere that carries her name, where she resided shortly after migrating to the United States, and in Mustinlahti, where she was an elementary school teacher. 

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What does Finland fear as its society becomes more culturally and ethnically diverse?

What do you think are the main issues that migrants and minorities face in Finland? Is the majority population having a difficult time sharing public spaces with migrants and minorities? Are Finns suspicious of difference? Do they fear that they’ll lose power and privilege as our society becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse?* One of the

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The words and silence of politicians have dire consequences in Finland for us

After the stabbing of ten people in Turku on Friday, politicians like President Sauli Niinistö, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Interior Minister Paula Risikko, the national media, which echoes far-right opinions of Jussi Halla-aho, the chairman of the Perussuomalaiset* who was convicted for hate speech, appear to be carried away by their own prejudices and hostility towards asylum seekers, which does impact our culturally diverse community.

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The Finnish Security Intelligence Service’s epic failure in reacting to a terrorist threat in Turku

 In a country like Finland, where the police are demigods, the epic failure of the Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) in not reacting soon enough to the terrorist attack in Turku stands out like a sore thumb. Supo had received a tip in early 2017 from the police about the suspect Abderrahman Mechkah’s radicalized and extremist views, according to YLE News. 

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Why do some schools in Finland ask if a pupil is “a person of migrant origin?”

Sari Pöyhönen, who wrote in an op-ed piece in Helsingin Sanomat this week, asked why some schools in Finland ask parents if they are migrants, a person with a migrant origin, refugee, returnee, immigrant, temporarily in the country or asylum seeker. It is a good question considering that placing people into such groups is in general illegal in Finland.

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Helsingin Sanomat survey on migrants reveals expectations that adaption in Finland is and will be a one-way process

Finland’s largest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, published a survey Friday about the minimum requirements that foreigners should adapt to if living here. Seventy-seven percent fully agreed that white Finns should be able to shake hands with both sexes. The survey showed as well that 52% were against women’s-only swimming hours and that 37% felt that one should bathe naked in the sauna. 

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“Tolerant” Minister Lindström and his aide planned to slash funding to integration programs in Finland

Blue Reform* (formerly Perussuomalaiset) Minister of Labor Jari Lindström’s special aide Sakari Puisto aimed to slash financial aid to migrant associations by 348,000 euros from 750,000 euros, reports Helsingin Sanomat. A ministry official was “shocked” when he heard such plans by Puisto in January.

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The Finnish media gives a lot of space to Halla-aho and the PS but none to us

It’s clear that the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is a different party after this weekend, when Jussi Halla-aho, Laura Huhtasaari, Teuvo Hakkarainen and Juho Eerola were elected to lead the anti-immigrant and anti-EU party. Halla-aho spoke of in his policy speech of “nationalistic forces,” which is code for anti-immigration, anti-cultural diversity and anti-EU policies. 

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Nativist nationalist anti-cultural diversity politician Sampo Terho named as Finland’s minister of culture, sport and European affairs

What kind of message does the appointment of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* parliamentary group leader Sampo Terho to minster of culture, sport and European issues send? Does it strengthen our Nordic welfare state values or does it drive a wedge between us? We are naming a person who is hostile to cultural diversity and sees the EU as a threat as minister.

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Helsinki Times: A rebuttal to Ville Tavio

An op-ed piece published by the Helsinki Times on April 11 by Finns Party (PS) MP Ville Taavio is a good example of why migrants, minorities and sensible Finns should react and be concerned about the type of country some politicians want to steer Finland towards becoming.

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[Finland 100 series: What is “Finnish-ness”?] Interview with Enrique: journalist, sociologist, and editor at Migrant Tales

The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme:What is “Finnish-ness”?  led by the Prime Minister’s Office. Today we have the huge privilege of having Enrique Tessieri as our second interviewee. You can read the original interview here. Enrique Tessieri is a journalist and sociologist who writes and researches immigration topics like Finnish

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Migrant Tales (April 14, 2015): My identity is mine, not yours, so stop labeling me according to your prejudices

Why do some public services like the police even some migrants believe they have the right to define who are? The police do it constantly. Every time they label a person or group as a person with “foreign” or “migrant” background they are effectively relegating that person publicly to second- or third-class status in society.

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A brave boy that reminds us in Finland to not take our eye off the racist ball

After Valtteri Saarinen went on Finnish national television Monday and said that racist harassment at school was something “normal” even President Sauli Niinstö was shocked. Valtteri said that he’s been named the “n-word,” and called “feces” and “a feces-colored” person for such a long time that he doesn’t react to such racism any longer.  President

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What Finland lacks to become a successful culturally diverse country like Canada

Anti-immigration populists and ultranationalist use the code term “immigration policy” to mean that they don’t want non-EU nationals especially Muslims from the Middle East and Africa to move to their country. Finland is no exception and they point to Canada as an example of successful immigration policy that we could emulate.

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Finland must get off its whining horse and seek proactive solutions to the asylum seeker situation

Like many anti-immigration politicians, even former National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero believes that there is some magic number that we shouldn’t cross concerning the number of asylum seekers that arrive to our country. In 2015, a record 32,000 asylum seekers came to Finland. How many arrive this year is an open question.

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Ongoing debate on asylum seekers in Finland: Lawmakers who play or are ignorant of our laws and basic human rights

As I watched the A-studio: T debate about the record number of asylum seekers in Finland, I thought about Kadar Gelle, a Somali anti-racism activist who watched Monday’s A-studio debate, where Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Tom Packalén, who has tried to build a political career on anti-immigration rhetoric, debates with Somali Finn Mukhtar Abib about the tightening of immigration policy.

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Susheela Daniel: On being a multicultural Finn

I got to know Susheela Daniel through many of her insightful Facebook postings. She was one of the brave women who protested in front of parliament against the election of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party MP Maria Lohela as speaker of parliament. One of her latest Facebook posts was on “integrated migrants” raised some good questions about Uncle Toms in the migrant and minority community.

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Migrants’ Rights Network: Progressive thinktank sets out reasons why immigration is needed to create “the Good Society”

Compass, a thinktank that describes itself as “building a Good Society; one that is much more equal, sustainable and democratic than the society we are living in now” has published a ‘thinkpiece’ which sets out arguments why a positive attitude to immigration has to be a part of this process.

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Helsingin Sanomat article on refugees is an exercise in stereotyping

One matter has always surprised me about Finnish journalists is how they stereotype and allow their own value judgements and prejudices get in the way of facts. A good example is a story by Jukka Harju who not only mistakenly claims that the first refugees came to Finland over 40 years ago but which nationality adapted the best in Finland.

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Why are racists in Finland racists?

It’s clear that racism derives also from low self-esteem apart from being a sinister tool to exclude other groups from gaining access to political, social and economic capital. Ever thought why those who are vocal about their racist views are such an active group? The answer is simple: In order to climb up a few miserable

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Eva Biaudet: Finland’s ever-culturally and ethnically diverse society in the new century (Part I)

Swedish People’s Party (SPP) MP Eva Biaudet has made a name for herself defending those that don’t have a voice in society and those who are most vulnerable to discrimination and exploitation. If there is a person that can give a picture of where Finland is or should be heading in this century as our country becomes ever-culturally and ethnically diverse, that person is certainly Biaudet.

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Facebook: Does “Finnish labor” include migrants, naturalized Finns and minorities?

One of the members of the new government, the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, said that jobs will be created for Finnish labor. In the present anti-immigration environment in Finland, such statements have a hostile ring to migrants, naturalized Finns and minorities since they don’t promote inclusion and fair hiring practices.

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Finland’s attitude and experience of cultural diversity lag thirty years behind other European countries

Watching YLE’s A-studio, which was aired Wednesday, is a prime example why we are still far away in Finland of having an inclusive society that is fair to everyone irrespective of their background. Spotting the red herrings in the debate on such a talk show isn’t easy but not impossible. If National Coalition Party MP

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Treating immigrants in Finland as the problem IS the problem

What’s wrong with the ongoing debate in Finland concerning immigration, refugees and cultural diversity? The problem is that they are treated as a problem by politicians, the media and public.*  Instead of treating these three matters as “a problem” we should make an effort to think outside of the current anti-immigration political climate and see them

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Defining white Finnish privilege #21: Who can be a Finn?

A Finn is anyone with Finnish citizenship, right?  Citizenship can be obtained through birth (jus sanguinis) or naturalization. Even if this should be clear as day, certain public services like the police continue to group Finns according to their so-called “foreign” or “immigrant” backgrounds. I don’t have any problems with my foreign background even if

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Tapanila sexual assault in Finland sends a disturbing signal about our society

Something terrible happened on Monday night after 9pm at the Tapanila train station of northern Helsinki. A group of 15-18-year-olds were reportedly harassing a young woman on a train, who was later sexually assaulted by the same suspects outside the station, according to Helsingin Sanomat.  No respectable news organization or police force with integrity should

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UPDATE (Mar. 6): Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism

Migrant Tales’ 2015 Hall of Poor and Sloppy Journalism will be updated separately. To see other examples of opinionated journalism in Finland about cultural diversity, please go to this link. Mar. 6 Yli puolet nuorista on kokenut syrjintää – ongelmia eniten kouluissa (Helsingin Sanomat) What’s the missing story in this story? Migrant Tales has written before

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Politicians who fuel and support opportunity segregation in Finland

Tanja Hartonen-Pulkka is a Perussuomalaiset (PS)* candidate in April’s parliamentary elections. Last year she was noticed by Migrant Tales for all the wrong reasons. Hartonen-Pulkka lives in Mäntyharju, a small town in Eastern Finland with a population of 6,200 people that has a handful of foreign residents. She claimed in fall that at the present

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Where to catch up on news about immigration, immigrants and cultural diversity

Where does Migrant Tales get its information? Apart from getting tip-offs from readers, another important source is Uutiskynnys as well as other social media sites like Facebook (Rasmus and others) and Twitter. We only read racist diatribe on Facebook instead of following hate sites like Hommaforum and Scripta.  Following the latter sites as well as other

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The rise and fall of the Perussuomalaiset of Finland

As support for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)[1] wanes with parliamentary elections only a heartbeat away on April 19, we are seeing a very different party  from four years ago. Back then, PS chairman Timo Soini was self-confident and campaigning confidently. He was the darling of the media, the new kid on the block, the underdog, the only

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European Network Against Racism: Muslims in Europe – Questions and Answers

European Network Against Racism (ENAR)* As anti-Muslim manifestations increase in Europe, particularly in the aftermath of the Paris and Copenhagen attacks, we clarify some misconceptions and answer some of the most frequent questions about Muslims in Europe. Visit original posting here.   Q: Who are Muslim Europeans? Muslims have been present in Europe since the

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A young black woman in a small Finnish city

Finns are adamant that there is no racial discrimination in their society. Josephy Wandera Owindi* For some white people it’s difficult to comprehend how a black woman could be treated in a small city like Mikkeli, located 230km northeast of Helsinki. Is she a victim of microaggressions and/or of outright sexism and racism?  The aim of a

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Defining white Finnish privilege #16: Rosa Emilia Clay and my history versus yours

Ever wondered why all of Finland’s history is white? Ever wondered why you probably never heard of Rosa Emilia Clay (1875-1959), Finland’s first black citizen?  According to Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s oldest daily established in 1824, Åbo Underrättelser, ran a story of “a mulatto girl born in Africa and baptized there [in Amboland in northern Namibia].” Then thirteen-year-old

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When will Finland change its suspicious views of migrants and cultural diversity?

Christian Thibault, chairman of Rasmus, told Migrant Tales a while back something significant about how matters change in Finland concerning migrants in this country. He said that the Finnish Football Federation wasn’t very active in providing referee courses in different languages. When they noticed that ere was a chronic shortage of referees, matters changed.  In

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Fatbardhe Hetemaj: Who will speak up for us if you don’t?

Fatbardhe Hetemaj is a promising National Coalition Party Helsinki city councilwoman who moved to Finland at the age of seven. Since people like Hetemaj are becoming more common in Finland as we become a more culturally and ethnically diverse society, it is important that they speak out against discrimination and promote tolerance and respect for

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Institute of Race Relations: Where monoculturalism leads

Migrant Tales insight: This perception or problem, monoculturalism, is affecting Finland as well. It explains why an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* can raise the number of MPs in four years from 5 in 2007 to 39 in 2011. It explains why there is so little interest to tackle institutional racism and why so

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PS MP Packalén is still in the dark about integration and cultural identity

The media is part of the problem when it comes to racism in Finland because it gives such people and politicians inflated respectability and importance. A good example of the problem is a story on MTV3 where Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Tom Packalén asks Social Democrat MP Maria Guzenina if she would root in a football match

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What kind of a year was 2014 for our ever-growing culturally diverse society?

For Finland’s ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse community, 2014 will be remembered for many good and bad things. At the top of the good things, there’s the Olen suomalainen video but the list of toxic news far outweighs the latter like Tom Packalén’s “racist youth mobs with migrant backgrounds” and Pia Kauma’s “baby carriages.”  Migrant Tales

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Sweden Democrats openly attack cultural diversity – will the PS of Finland follow their example?

In a clear attempt to cash in on the anti-immigration sentiment, Sweden Democrat party secretary Björn Söder said that minorities like the Saami could never be Swedes and was willing to pay immigrants to leave the country, reports The Local. The mere suggestion that Sweden is only a country of white Swedes reveals the racist

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Finland: A nation of emigrants

While some heads of state like Barack Obama speak of the United States as a nation of immigrants, Finland has historically been a nation of emigrants. How does being a nation of emigrants differ from being a nation of immigrants? There is a big difference and reveals in part why some Finns are so hostile

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An effective way of putting racism in context in Finland

There are many ways to understand ethnic hatred and racism in Finland. One of these is by substituting the word ‘migrant’ for your ethnic group and/or ‘woman’ in a text that’s aimed at fueling ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Let’s take the recent claims of two politicians, MPs Tom Packalén and Pia Kauma, to see how passions are

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Nura Farah: A blooming flower with a pen that many aimed to destroy

There is an interesting interview of Nura Farah, Finland’s first Somali-born writer, who speaks openly about growing up as a black person in this country from the 1990s, when even middle-school teachers took part in the racist bullying of non-white Finns. Racist bullying and racism are white privilege weapons used by this society to destroy

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What will the April 2015 elections of Finland reveal about ourselves as a country?

It’s clear that the parliamentary elections of April 2015 in Finland will reveal a lot of matters about this country. In many respects it’s like strip tease joint where women or men, disguised as political parties, take off their clothes. Sexuality isn’t being shown in bare flesh but in political ideologies such as racism, whiteness,

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New dissertation about migrants sheds light on our ignorance and prejudices

Two news stories published this week highlight in my opinion why intolerance continues to dominate debate in these parts. The latest story published by YLE was about a dissertation by Annukka Muurin, which showed that multicultural, or third-culture Finns, speak Finnish better than their parents’ language.  Isn’t this a pretty obvious finding if the child

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Helsingin Sanomat: Non-white taxi drivers face suspicion and outright racism from customers

There’s an interesting article on Helsingin Sanomat today about how non-white Finnish taxi drivers face suspicion and outright racism from potential customers. It’s refreshing to see the country’s biggest daily taking a more serious attitude towards discrimination. It’s a big improvement from the days when it published polls in 2010 about what Finns thought about

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Racism, children and football in Finland

If you want to find a short cut into racism in Finland, read the anonymous comments after a news story on the topic. One such story, published Monday by Turku-based daily Turun Sanomat, is a perfect example. The news story is about a group of 10-11-year-old boys who were returning by ship to the mainland

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Gareth Rice: Finland Warm welcome, then cold shoulder

Gareth Rice I did my PhD in urban geography at the University of Strathclyde and had been lecturing there for more than three years before I accepted my postdoctoral position at the University of Helsinki in December 2007. I had never been to Finland before, but the country, its people and their culture had long

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Integration by perkele

Some have heard of the expression of management by perkele, which means swift decision-making by management and where your opinion as an employee counts little. In Finland the goal is integration, or two-way adaption, but what happens on too many occasions is integration by perkele.  Integration by perkele has a clear message: This is our country, perkele,

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In the hands of white Finnish privilege, our ever-growing cultural and ethnic diversity is a pathway of good intentions and social exclusion

Or is the saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions?” One would think that the great amount of effort put into Finland’s educational system would help it to come to grips with social ills like racism and xenophobia. If we look at the political landscape of Finland, and how hostile this country

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If you went back 200 generations, how many grandparents would you have?

Whenever I look at the chart below I think about the one-sidedness of genealogical studies and the justification of “blue blood.”  This simple chart show tear to shreds any justification that we haven’t mixed with other ethnic groups if we all once migrated from Africa.  The question isn’t how different we are but how closely related we

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Espoo city council votes against racism

A proposal by the Perussuomalaiset (PS) to rewrite the City of Espoo’s multicultural programme because it stated that city residents “don’t tolerate racism” were voted down 64-10, reports Länsiväylä.  Two PS councilmen, Simon Elo (left) and Teemu Lahtinen,  loathe Muslims and cultural diversity. Read full story (in Finnish) here. If one reads closely the position of the PS, an anti-EU, anti-immigration

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Jussi Halla-aho’s broken record: destroy cultural and ethnic diversity

We hear over and over again the same anti-immigration diatribe by politicians like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho, who complain constantly about too liberal immigration policy and multiculturalism. PS MP Jussi Halla-aho would like to restrict free movement of people in Europe and tighten migration policy if elected Euro MP, according to Swedish-language daily HBL.

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Muslim woman wasn’t admitted to the Finnish police training school because she would refuse to take off her headscarf

A Muslim woman, 38, was not admitted to the police training school because she would not take off her headscarf during working hours, reports YLE in English. The woman was so disappointed with the rejection that she even contemplated leaving Finland.   Read full story here. “In the [police] interviewer’s opinion it was not possible

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Acceptance and respect of cultural diversity is very similar to the gay rights struggles of the past

It wasn’t too long ago in Europe and countries like the United States, Argentina and Australia that being gay was seen as a psychological disorder that could even be cured. Acceptance of cultural diversity, the right to be treated with respect irrespective of your background, is undergoing the same struggles that gays faced as they

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Finland ponders whether to forbid the Summer Hymn at schools

The Finnish suvivirsi, or Summer Hymn, may be forbidden at schools for having religious overtones, according to YLE in English. Such plans, which are under review by the national board of education, have raised stiff opposition from Finland’s most conservative and nationalistic politicians like Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen and anti-immigration Perussuomlaiset (PS) chairman, Timo Soini. Read

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Cultural and ethnic diversity are who we are

When you do everything possible to undermine diversity you end up letting out the genie out of the bottle.         If we look at the political climate in Finland today with the rise of an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) in 2011, it’s clear that the genie

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I, too, am Finland!

During Europe’s action week against racism (March 15-23), wouldn’t it be appropriate to post something that promotes inclusion and respect? One posting drives home a very important and long overdue message in Finland: #itooamfinland. Read full story (in Finnish) here. What’s the biggest challenge that our country faces during this century? It’s living in an ever-culturally diverse

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“Migrants” lag two years behind “ethnic Finns” in Pisa results

Here’s an interesting story on the Finnish News Agency (STT) wires: Migrant students at school lag two years behind so-called ethnic Finns in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results. Of all the OECD countries, Finland’s Pisa result saw the biggest drop in 2013 from the previous year. Read full story here. Anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) MPs

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Statement: EU elections 2014: the way towards more equality in Europe, 7 demands from ENAR

The next European Parliament to be elected in May 2014 has a crucial role to play when it comes to reducing the entrenched inequalities faced by its citizens and residents. Among these are ethnic minorities and migrants who often face discrimination on multiple grounds: ethnic origin, nationality, social status, income, gender or age. The European

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Landmark decision in Finland: Sikh busman said “it was a nice feeling” to wear a turban at work

The long ordeal over whether Sikh bus driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh could wear a turban to work ended on February 21. “I got a call from the AKT (Transport Workers’ Union) on Friday and they said that it’s been resolved,” he told Migrant Tales. “I have the right to wear a turban at work.”    Read full

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A must-see video about who we Finns are

If there is one matter where Finland’s ever-growing culturally diverse society must still work on, it’s instilling greater acceptance and respect for those who are different from white Finns. For me, this is central in our struggle to live in a country that is acceptant and respects others irrespective of their backgrounds.  After moving over

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Landmark decision in Finland: Sikh bus driver may wear turban at work

The long ordeal over whether Sikh bus driver Gill Sukhdarshan Singh could wear a turban to work has been decided in his favor, reports Helsingin Sanomat. A decision was reached last week between the Finnish Employers’ Federation of Road Transport (ALT) and Transport Workers’ Union AKT over the interpretation of the bus driver’s employment contract. 

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Passage of gay marriage law will benefit all minorities in Finland

The ongoing passionate debate in parliament on same-sex marriage reveals, in my opinion, something we’ve known all along about Finland: How we accept and respect people who are different from us. Alongside the present debate on gay marriage is another one being contested in public about our ever-growing cultural diversity. A draft law to legalize gay

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David Papineau: Civil Society and why Adnan Januzaj should be Eligible for England (Though He Isn’t)

David Papineau Adnan Januzaj is what American sports journalists call a ‘phenom’. Barely eighteen when he was called into the Manchester United first team last August, he immediately proved a match-winner and has been exuding class all season. If he can stay fit and keep his form, he is destined to become one of the

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What’s really being discussed in the ongoing debate about immigration in Finland?

After taking part actively in the ongoing debate about immigration and immigrants, some crucial points always expose themselves in the debate. I personally believe that there is one very important issue that few care to admit: accepting our cultural and ethnic diversity and how some white Finns accept the latter.  I’m overjoyed that there are

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Finland is a highly racialized country

Racialization, or ethnicization, is a sociological concept that ascribes racial or ethnic identities to a relationship. In simple terms it is the way that a dominant group ascribes an identity on minorities in order to dominate them. In Finland this is so common that our nationality is mentioned on our drivers license even if we’re

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When will people with “immigrant backgrounds” be accepted as Finns on their terms?

After following on a daily basis news about cultural diversity in Finland and elsewhere, the stories that Migrant Tales aims to cover in 2014 are those stories that the mainstream media doesn’t consider news.  One reason why the mainstream media still writes about cultural diversity from it’s perspective is because those writing the stories are mainly

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You, Migrant Tales and 2014

The Migrant Tales team wants to take the opportunity to thank all of our readers and supporters.  This beautiful drawing was by Luis Blanchard in Argentina. We look forward to another good year in our struggle to promote in Finland a culturally diverse society that is united by mutual acceptance, respect and equal opportunities. Migrant

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013

Compared with the previous two years, 2013 will be remembered as business as usual on the intolerance front. A positive sign, however, is the reaction of some of the Finnish media to racism. Even so, the media in this country continues to give some racists inflated respectability and importance by spreading their prejudice.    The reaction

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 will be published on December 28

Finland & Cultural Diversity 2013 will be published Saturday. The review of the year will look at cultural diversity and intolerance in Finland.  Read previous reports from 2012 and 2011. News published by the media this year reveals that 2013 was worse than 2012. Taking into account that an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset must

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Landmark turban case in Finland to go to court in February

Gill Sukhdashan Singh, the Sikh bus driver that has been denied the right to wear a turban at work by his employer, told Migrant Tales that transport workers union AKT will take Veolia bus company to court concerning the matter.  Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, has been following the story closely. Read full story here.

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Fadumo Dayib: Go suck on some oranges

Fadumo Dayib Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself. ― Harvey Fierstein Read full story here. Rant coming your way. Welcome deranged internet fascists. I’ve been expecting you and oh boy aren’t you so predictable. Come out from behind your computer.

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When will we pass to anti-racism phase two in Finland?

Some will agree that Finland is decades behind other countries when it comes to challenging racism. But there is good news: The rise of an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party in 2011, the Perussuomalaiset (PS), is a sign that we’re moving forward to phase two. Phase one is when most of the efforts of a

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Timo Soini’s silence in the face of PS MP Olli Immonen’s proposal reveals that he has always been the wolf in sheep’s clothing

Timo Soini, the chairman of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party, was quoted as saying on YLE in English that PS MP Olli Immonen’s written question to parliament, that Finland should start classifying people according to ethnic background, doesn’t concern him.  What do you think such a statement by the head of an an anti-immigration party reveals?

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Sikh bus driver in Finland plans to take employer to court over landmark turban case

Busman Gill Sukhdarshan Singh told Migrant Tales that he plans to take his employer to court if no decision is reached with the Veolia bus company concerning a turban ban at work after the the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) makes a new ruling on the matter in about a week and a half. 

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Isolationism, petty provincialism and nationalism: social ills with far-reaching consequences

In the backdrop of Finland’s independence day celebrations Friday and as the world mourns Nelson Mandela’s death yesterday, our country is at a major crossroads contesting whether it wants to be a closed or open society. The historic victory of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party in 2011 is one example how this country has taken a perilous

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Maryan Abdulkarim: “Finland is a very racist country”

Is there racism in Finland? In order to find the answer to that question, we’d have to ask visible migrants and minorities.  Maryan Abdulkarim, 31, is a Finn who was born in Somalia, had the opportunity on Friday’s Helsingin Sanomat to answer that question. “Finland is a very racist country,” she said. “It always has been.”

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Beating intolerance at its own game requires a reaction, leadership and a voice

Beating intolerance at its own game is easier than you think. There are many good examples in Finland, like International Mikkeli Day (IMD), where people from a grass-root level take action and seek solutions. Since intolerance and racism are based on lies and generous quantities of ideological fools gold, truth is the light that exposes

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Finnish bus company continues to prohibit Sikh employee from wearing a turban

Migrant Tales reported in September a landmark case in which a Sikh busman could wear a turban while at work. Helsingin Sanomat reported Thursday, however, that matters didn’t turn the way that the Vantaa Sikh busman, Gill Sukhdarshan Singh, thought. According to Helsingin Sanomat,  the Sikh busman is still not allowed to wear a turban at work. Migrant

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Is silence an effective response to racism?

One of the questions we should ask ourselves is what should our response be to those that are hostile to migrants, visible minorities and our ever-growing cultural diversity. Should silence be the answer?  One of the matters that I have learned through my many years of studying and writing about cultural diversity, is that silence

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Are you a perpetrator or victim of white Finnish privilege?

One matter about intolerance is that it is universal. The social ill can manifest itself in different ways by speaking different languages and historical context but don’t be fooled by these deceptions: Intolerance is the same ogre.  White privilege is one of the many faces of racism and means automatic access or exclusion to the

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A2 Islam debate: “We’re a very tolerant society but…”

Two matters bothered me the most about the A2 Islam debate Tuesday night: how the cards were deliberately stacked against cultural diversity, and how Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Olli Immonen and PS Espoo city councilman Simon Elo did their utmost to spread fear-mongering of Muslims.  You can watch the full debate here until the end of

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About A2’s debate on Islam tonight…

The A2 islam-ilta television debate Tuesday will reveal once again white Finnish ethnocentrism, how poorly we know our laws and, what’s important, how poorly we accept people who are different from us. Is the Finnish media giving once again racists inflated respectability and importance? Will the A2 debate improve or undermine the situation of Muslims in Finland?

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Headlines that raise questions and reveal a lot about our attitudes of other cultures

If one wants to start a humorous blog in Finland, just check out the headlines that dailies use sometimes to write about immigrants and refugees. True, some of them aren’t funny at all because they are hostile and ostracize specific groups.     Read full story here. Here’s one headline I read on Monday’s Helsingin

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Red herrings, code words that help sanitize and make more acceptable our intolerance

Even if I have written for years about Finland’s anti-immigration groups like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), you have to learn to detect the red herrings in order to understand their real views on the topic. What you may uncover behind these red herrings is far scarier than ever imagined.  A red herring is “something intended to

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Dana: Why doesn’t President Sauli Niinistö care about immigrants? What’s his stand on racism?

Dana Finland is a small country but a very proud one about its political and legal system. Some Finns believe they are, however, so different from other people on this planet and they can’t explain why. For example…in Finland the law functions like magic; they believe that the law is so comprehensive that no-one in

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Cultural diversity is unstoppable – it exposes Finland’s white privilege and intolerance

A Silminnäkijä television program exposed Thursday something we all knew: how you are treated in Finland depends on the color of your skin and ethnic-national background. Should this surprise us? What is more incredible? Is it the indifference of the police, bouncers and near-silence of society as people are openly discriminated right before our very

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Jussi Halla-aho gets cold feet – another lie exposed

Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho announced that he will not take part in a live A2 televised debate on Islam, reports YLE. The MP, who has been convicted for ethnic agitation, said that the debate doesn’t serve the issue. He would, however, be ready to take part in a debate with fewer people. Read full

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Red Sociology: ASSIMILATION AS ASSASSINATION

MT comment: Even if the blog entry below speaks of assimilation, or one-way integration of blacks in the United States, it’s pretty certain that these types of discussions will pick up in Finland as we become a more culturally diverse society. Who is being assimilated into Finnish society? Are blacks and visible minorities expected to

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Zuzeeko’s blog: Finland’s population registry website excludes visible minorities

Zuzeeko Tegha Abeng* Finland is still very much a racially homogeneous country — predominantly made up of white Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking people. The homogeneous nature of the population is reflected in most walks of life in the country where people of African descent or visible minorities are not represented or are relegated to the background.

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Does Finland promote two-way or one-way adaption of immigrants?

Our integration law promotes two-way adaption as opposed to assimilation, which is a one-way process. Section 17 of the Finnish Constitution states that each person living in this country has the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture. What do these two important laws mean in practice and how are they applied? Sensible Finns

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Helsingin Sanomat poll reveals Finns’ opposition to cultural diversity

A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomt, Finland’s largest-circulation daily, reveals that 53% of those polled agreed (22%) or partially agreed (31%) that immigrants should aim at becoming as Finnish as possible. That compares with 18% and 30%, respectively, in 2011. If there is something worrying that the poll shows, it’s Finland’s growing opposition to cultural

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Artist Kiba Lumberg: “Don’t box me in!”

In order to understand Kiba Lumberg, 57, you need to know some Finnish history, the plight of minorities like the Roma, and what it is like to live in worlds shaded by different hues of grey. Since this story is about an artist who doesn’t want to conform to set norms imposed on her by

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Old Finnish national social constructs still fuel intolerance and exclude visible minorities

The Association of Finnish Culture and Identity (Suomalaisuuden liitto) is an association founded in 1906 to “strengthen the sense of national identity, to promote Finnish education and culture.” While this statement may appear innocent at first, the association endorses the intolerance white Finnish speakers have today against Swedish speakers never mind immigrants and visible minorities. In

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Dana: Forbidden questions

By Dana Questions need answers, silence is not an answer, silence has no wave, without a wave you can’t move, without a wave u cant build, without a wave you go and give up, without a wave u can’t wake up. 1. Is Sauli Niinisto your favor president? Why, if yes? Why not? Can you answer this

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Victimizing and labeling immigrants for political profit

UK’s David Cameron is one European PM who is using immigration to bolster his Conservative Party’s poll ratings. It’s a recurring and worrisome political story across Europe: let’s get tough on immigration so we can gain a few percentage points in the polls. This type of campaigning is not only cowardly, but racist and disgraceful.

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Confessions of a recovering racist

Society has achieved at least one significant victory in the fight against racism – it has succeeded in making open racism a dirty concept. The power of stigma that worked so effectively to reinforce racism has been harnessed to turn the tide against open discrimination – at least in polite society. Today, in most public

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Migrant Tales Literary: Mark or question mark

By Dana Source: www.aumethodists.org White or yellow or one step until yellow …Finish the race??? The question mark means that it is a question for you, so this story wants your ideas; u can prove them, ur idea as u wish. This is a colorful question so it isn’t an easy question to answer… but if

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Finland never was, is, and will be only “white”

Whenever a far right politician like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Olli Immonen, Jussi Halla-aho or James Hirvisaari comment on what is or who has the right to be Finnish, they always get it wrong. Their views, that Finland is only white, is not only wrong but a hostile act towards the tens of thousands of Finns

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Sikh busman confident that employer will lift turban ban

Busman Gill Sukhdarshan Singh is confident that his employer, Veolia Transport of Vantaa, will honor a Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency ruling that imposing a turban ban by the employer was discriminatory. Source: Gill Sukhdarshan Singh. ”I have no doubt that that in two months, when I will get written permission from the employer, I will

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Ariela Patterson: The right to be me on my terms

One of the biggest challenges facing Finland in the new century is to come to terms with its ever-growing cultural diversity. While some Finns have no problems with this, others oppose it. Finland’s cultural diversity is, however, something that nobody can stop. There are today tens of thousands of Finns with multicultural backgrounds. Ariela Patterson,

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How serious is the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy?

The more I think of the government’s published white paper on immigration policy made public on Thursday, the more I have reason to worry.  Apart from omitting altogether the term multiculturalism and cultural from diversity in the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy, your suspicions aren’t put to rest by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK),

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Where are you from?

Even if I have lived most of my adult life in Finland and my mother is Finnish, I’m still asked occasionally where I’m from. In a spirit of mutual respect, I ask the person the same question. Some don’t like it.  The innocent question, where are you from, reveals a lot about our prejudices and

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“Only Finnish spoken here” versus cultural diversity

What would you do if you saw on an elementary school classroom door the following message: Only Finnish spoken here? Would you ask if speaking Swedish is ok? Would it raise disturbing memories of how minorities like the Saami were persecuted and discouraged at school especially after World War 2 for speaking their own language?

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The Stockholm riots reveal in the raw our prejudices and loathing for cultural diversity

Apart from being a wake-up call to ever-growing social exclusion, discrimination and outright intolerance that is alive and kicking in Sweden, the riots in the northern suburb of Stockholm have revealed in Finland our prejudices and loathing for cultural diversity.  The Local writes: “Stockholm is not on fire. Let’s get that clear immediately.” Read full

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Migrant Tales Literary: Boycott تحریم

By Dana نه رفیق و خانواده                  چهره ها پر از افاده نه در و نه پنجره، راه        مهر وموم و قفل و هم چاه نه کلید و رحمت و نور           همه کس بگویدت زور تازیانه می زند هار                 دیو زشت موذی

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How can we challenge racism if it isn’t a problem?

As long as we don’t see racism as a big enough problem in our society, our response to it will be inefficient. Just like any illness, we must first diagnose it and then prescribe a cure.   It’s disappointing to read how some people can insult others in a racist manner. Yesterday’s news story published

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It’s the cultural diversity, stupid!

Would it be fair to say that the biggest challenge facing Finland during this century is accepting its cultural diversity and deconstructing our white national identity in order to make our society more inclusive? Will this happen easily?  The central issue being debated in Finland today about immigrants boils down to one question: How much

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Finland’s tolerance for cultural diversity is being tested to the limit these days

Finland’s tolerance to Otherness is being tested to the limit these days. If we look at it from a political perspective, the knee-jerk reaction is clear. Denying that there isn’t a connection between the stellar rise of an anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Islam party and our ever-growing cultural diversity is understanding a little or erroneously the

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What will happen to Finland if the PS matches its parliamentary election result in 2015?

Should we be worried by the latest polls, which show the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party vying for second place? What does the rise of the PS say about the present state of Finland? What will happen if the party matches its 2011 election result in 2015? Right after the disappointing municipal election, PS head Timo Soini promised that

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Pia Grochowski: Shifting our focus

By Pia Grochowski  “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” These were the final words written by the late Canadian leader of the opposition, Jack Layton, just hours before his untimely death

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Racism Review: Does Cultural Diversity Promote Economic Growth?

By Racism Review Diversity has sometimes been considered as an abstract principle, divorced from macro-economic trends and global realities. Research by Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor of Brown University, suggests otherwise. In a paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2011, Ashraf and Galor crystallize their findings on the interplay between cultural

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Migrant Tales (October 1, 2011): Multicultural Finns – “Accepting yourself is the first step”

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  Martin Luther King, Jr. A guest speaker gave on Friday her recipe on how young adolescents from different countries living in Finland could build a space for themselves in society. Two matters struck me from

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How do Finnish schools treat cultural diversity?

In theory, the answer is straightforward: Finnish schools should respect cultural diversity but a lot depends on the school and the principle.  If we compare how elementary and middle schools treated visible minority students in the 1990s, we hope that matters have improved since then.  But have they?  Cultural diversity in Finland up to the

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Helsinki’s and Greater Helsinki’s immigrant population to rise by over 131% in 20 years

A forecast that will be published Monday by Statistics Finland sees the immigrant population of Helsinki and its surroundings rising by over 131% in two decades to around 300,000 from 130,000, reports YLE in English, citing Swedish-language daily Hufvustadsbladet. Writes Yle in English: “Most non-Finnish speakers come to Finland and the Helsinki region from Africa

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What does Finland’s integration law reveal about our society and expectations?

A good question we can ask about Finland’s integration act is what it reflects about our views and expectations of newcomers. Can any law integrate people effectively?   If you want to speak of one- or two-way adaption, one should ask some of Finland’s oldest minorities like the Roma and Saami what memories such a

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Labels that fuel discrimination and racism in Finland

When will Finns drop this discriminatory term: Finns with immigrant backgrounds? Many, I suspect, are and should be proud of their background. I am but what happens if these labels and terms ensure that you will continue to be treated as something less equal?  What do you do if being labeled in such a way

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Red Herring tales (Part I): City of Vaasa plans to prohibit the use of burquinis

Ever heard of the burquini, a swimming outfit consisting of head scarf, tunic and trousers designed for Muslim women? The western Finnish city of Vaasa plans to prohibit the use of these swimming suits at a city committee* meeting next Wednesday. The reason? Because it is a security risk and not hygienic, according to a City

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Journalists should question instead of spread racism and prejudice

Journalists are one group that have helped to spread and reinforce our prejudices and racism of other groups. There’s nothing surprising about this considering that journalists, like the media that employs them, mirror in part what the public feels.  Ilta-Sanomat is one tabloid resonsible for spreading racism in Finland during the 1990s. This billboard tells

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Why was Finland “tolerant” of Jews when it was an ally of Nazi Germany?

Finns claim proudly – followed by an obvious sigh of relief – that even if we were an ally of Nazi Germany during World War 2, anti-Semitism never reached the same levels as in Hungary, Romania and in other parts of Nazi-dominated Europe.  While Finland offers an interesting case with respect to anti-Semitism in war-ravaged

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Cultural diversity in Finland: A letter from Ida, Abdulah and Joseph

COMMENT: Migrant Tales has always been interested in publishing the experiences of Finns with multicultural backgrounds. The letter by “Ida” below is one of the first we ever published on this blog in September 2008. There are others ones aboutSomali-Finn Abdulah, Living in no-man’s land, and Joseph, What being Finnish means to me. While all of

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Denying racism is the new racism

The more we debate racism, the more our ignorance is exposed in the raw.* This is a good matter because when we begin to see the light at the end of this debate, we can start wiping off our ignorance and replace it with knowledge. Even so, denial is still rampant. Bill Maher said: “Denying racism is

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Save the Children: Too little attention is given to racist harassment of minors in Finland

The racist harassment that children are exposed to in Finland is either played down or sidelined completely, according to a statement by Save the Children (Pelastakaa Lapset), an association founded in 1922 that aims to improve the lives of children in Finland and abroad.  You can read the Save the Children statement (in Finnish) here.

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A cartoon that reveals a truth about integration and diversity in Europe

Sometimes when I read about how immigrants, their children and grandchildren are treated in some European countries, this cartoon comes to mind.  After the first warning and after you understand fully the but after the ” we’re a very tolerant society…” line,  many will encounter the wall of  institutional racism, the final icing of your integration cake

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President Niinistö’s New Year’s Day address sidelined immigrants and New Finns

President Sauli Niinistö’s first New Year’s Day address* brought up some important issues facing Finland. Some of these were the threat of plugging our budget deficit with debt as well as how greed and selfishness undermine our unity as a society. He did not mentioned once the term immigrant never mind New Finn and our

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Finland & Cultural Diversity 2012*

If 2011 was a watershed year for Finland with the historic rise of  a hostile party against immigrants and visible minorities in last year’s parliamentary elections, 2012 will be seen as a bittersweet turning point for the Perussuomalaiset (PS).  The year will be remembered as a very violent one for immigrants as well. During “Black

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2012 was another disappointing year for cultural diversity in Finland

Without a doubt, 2012 will be remembered as another bad year for cultural diversity in Finland. Finding the usual culprits isn’t difficult: ignorance and intolerance. It is surprising that a party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), which grew from relative obscurity to become the third-largest political force in parliament in 2011, can wake up the worst

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The same face of intolerance lives amongst us today

When I was growing up in the 1970s, one of the matters that followed me around was the constant news of the mass murder and cemetery silence imposed by ruthless Latin American dictatorships. If you lived in one of those countries where human rights violations were the rule, you were confronted by two options: take

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What are immigrants supposed to adapt to?

One of the biggest questions when speaking of the integration of immigrants and visible minorities in Europe and Finland is what are they supposed to adapt to. In theory everything sounds perfect in our law books. What happens on the ground, however, is a totally different story.  This abandoned Cadillac reveals the crude face of

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Finland must do more to ghostbust its race-and-blood myths

What do the rise of an anti-immigration party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) and Kokoomus’ Saul Schubak’s statements concerning child allowances have in common?  Setting racism and greed aside, they are the ethnic and social myths that continue to be taught and reinforced at our schools, homes and society.  One of the biggest myths and social

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Migrant Tales Literary: We’re already here (in Finland)

We are the new minorty already here, if you like it or not ready to build whatever needs building and travel that long difficult path of acceptance. Like it or not we’re your neighbors and don’t forget, that we’re here like chimapnzees swinging on birches, sixes and aspens in this freezing cold with you, albino

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Migrant Tales gets mentioned on YLE Areena

Migrant Tales is always happy about the public recognition it has received in the past. The latest is from Mikko Kapanen of YLE Areena. He considers Migrant Tales to be one of the most influential blogs forums on multiculturalism in Finland. Click here to listen to the program. Kapanen published in May a blog entry called, Africa

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Immigrants that look down on other immigrants

The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow. William Blake Some immigrants who have lived in Finland for many decades have adapted so well to this country that even their prejudices and stereotypes are just like those of the locals. Some, like Alain Chiaroni or Freddy Van Wonterghem, however, go beyond the call

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Julian Abagond: Of mixed-race identities

COMMENT: Some Finns have resolved the “mixed-ethnicity” question by stating that there is only one kind in Finland. Such an affirmation, that there is only one type of “real” Finn, is as ludicrous as stating that racism doesn’t exist in this country. What does a white Finn say when he asks about your “other mixed”

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Enrique Tessieri: Why I write about racism

I write about racism and social exclusion in Finland because it affects me and those I care about. I should know because I used to live marginalized from this society for decades.  I didn’t live marginalized because I was maladapted. I was marginalized because I was well-adapted. Too many didn’t consider me a “real” Finn

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Teach me that we are more alike than different…

 …teach me not to hate. Teach me the lie and shame of racism [because] it hurts all people. Teach me to learn from you and to learn about me…  Inspirational words from the Center for the Healing of Racism that should be the guiding light enshrined in our national curriculum for schools (opetussuunnitelma) concerning cultural diversity.

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Norwegian armed forces show cultural sensitivity

Since July 1, the Norweaign armed forces have relaxed rules for religious headgear, writes the Local, quoting daily Stavanger Afterbladed. It is now possible for Sikh soldiers to use turbans as well as for Jews to use skull-caps while serving in the Norwegian armed forces. Muslim women are permitted to wear a hijab with their

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Book review: “The Myth of the Muslim Tide”

One of Migrant Tales’ aims has been to bust urban myths about immigrants and minorities. A book published last week by Alfred Knopf Canada, The Myth of the Muslim Tide, aims to do just that concerning Muslims.  Writes Doug Saunders, the author of the book: “In the U.S., anti-Muslim bigotry has reached such alarming levels

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Dear Finland, as the heat of summer draws…

Dear Finland, As the heat of summer draws attention to your ever-changing sub-arctic beauty, you may have wondered why Migrant Tales has become a voice of the immigrant and visible minority community in Finland. We are always humbled by your presence on our blog. In truth, we are nothing more than a new confident image

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Cultural diversity in Finland: The high price of being too alike

As a writer and person with a multicultural background, I have been seeking to narrate a more inclusive and accurate history of Finland. Taking into account that over 1.2 million people emigrated from this country between 1860 and 1999 and our ever-growing immigrant population, aren’t both of these facts enough proof of our cultural diversity?

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Our Finnish national identity in the new century

Glancing through a pile of documents and certificates my late grandfather (1892-1979) had is like entering a time machine. Two certificates catch my attention: a Finnish-language test in 1925 and another one when he changed his surname from Hantwargh to Harvo. Both documents offer us a glimpse of how a social construct like Finnish national identity was forged in the last century.

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Migrant Tales Literary: Yearning never waits

I made one of the greatest discoveries of my life in 1998 at the Finnish Seamen’s Church of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Even if such pleasant interior landscapes no longer witness my silence and stance, they are now distant memories that have turned into spacious imaginary cities in the mind where each building has a tale to tell, whispering.

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Don’t give racism a platform!

I’m fed up. I’m fed up of certain commentators visiting us here on Migrant Tales to spread lies and personal insults and to disrespect other cultures. Those that ONLY have terrible things to say about specific peoples (as opposed to cultural criticism) really are practicing extremism. How could it be otherwise? When we condemn totalitarianism,

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Migrant Tales is a blog that accepts who we are where we are

I sometimes wonder where I get the strength and inspiration to write at least one blog entry a day on Migrant Tales. It’s not that I have the luxury of giving 100% of my time to this blog because I have a job and a life as well. Migrant Tales is a powerful voice because it is a hand-on-heart operation running on the fuel of passion for social justice and equality.

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Is Finland ready for cultural diversity?

In light of social ills like racism and social exclusion in Finland, J. W. Berry of Queen’s University of Canada offers us an opportunity to ask a very important question: Are we in Finland ready for cultural diversity? If we still aren’t quite there yet, how long will it take?

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Milloin minusta tulee suomalainen?

”Olenko suomalainen?” on niitä kysymyksiä, jotka yhdistävät kaikkia toisen polven maahanmuuttajia. Mutta kaikista kipeimmin se koskettaa värillisiä. Kantasuomalaisten keskuudessa kuuluu välillä lausahdus maassa maan tavalla mutta mitä tämä sanonta oikeasti tarkoittaa.

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Finland’s ever-growing cultural diversity is an opportunity to overcome past fears

One of the matters that Finnish academics, politicians, policy makers never mind the general public missed out completely about our ever-growing cultural diversity is that our history and myths are hindering us to see the big picture. The official and unofficial response to our culturally diverse society appears to be a subtle “no.”

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Finland's ever-growing cultural diversity is an opportunity to overcome past fears

One of the matters that Finnish academics, politicians, policy makers never mind the general public missed out completely about our ever-growing cultural diversity is that our history and myths are hindering us to see the big picture. The official and unofficial response to our culturally diverse society appears to be a subtle “no.”

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A new view of our diversity as a society is needed by the Finnish police

The violence we have witnessed recently against immigrants in cities like Oulu and Espoo Leppävaara put into question the claim that hate crimes fell by 15% in 2010, according to the Police College of Finland. Apart from raising worrisome questions about the present direction of our society it looks at the role of the police.

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Finland Bridge*: Living in Finland

Adapting to a country like Finland felt sometimes like sojourning on a long and winding path. Despite the many curves and uncertainties, there was one matter that gave me strength to continue on my journey: My lifelong wish to live in this country. I could have never succeeded by myself and without the friendship and support of so many people.

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There is hope if racism thrives on ignorance and isolation

If racism thrives on ignorance and isolation, then there is hope but a lot has to be done. Instead of lowering oneself to the diatribe and hatred of anti-immigration groups, we must strive to find solutions. People who spread racism are by no means infallible. Racism is like Dracula. Not only does it live on by infecting the person, it cannot stand the light of day.

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The Migrant Tales Manifesto (for Finland and Europe)

Thanks to the growing number of supporters, Migrant Tales has become that “voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians and public.” During these past years we have read and debated many points of views and have complied them on a list below.

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A good immigration integration policy for Finland and Europe

One of the biggest challenges to Finland’s new integration program is how well it promotes what it set out to do. How passionate are we Finns about ethnic and minority equality in this country if the most important piece of the puzzle is still missing: the big picture and what place new Finns and their children have in our society.

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We must fight for greater cultural diversity representation in our democracy and society

When I grew up in the United States, most if not all of our most popular television series kept us doped in a fantasy world where the only people that counted were white Europeans who spoke English. We read history as well but there was too little about the “other” USAmerican: immigrants, Hispanics, blacks, Native Americans and a long list of other groups that built the United States.

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Lip service or action by Finnish municipal authorities?

The role of accepting refugees in remote municipalities as a way of slowing the number of people who move out of the community is a half-way solution to the challenging demographic problem facing many parts of Finland. While there is a lot of good will to accommodate refugees in their municipality, many of these people end up moving to bigger cities like Helsinki after short stay.

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Coming out into an identity: gay, lesbian, pariah…

There is one line of a film review of Pariah on Colorlines that really caught me: “The film hinges on the belief that there’s no one way to be young, or black, or queer. And while it’s a struggle to come into any identity, those fights are always punctuated by moments of resilience and triumph.”

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Toronto Sun: Multiculturalism Trudeau's gift to Canada

TORONTO – Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was a visionary about the way different cultures in Canada co-exist today,” says the CEO of the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO), Dora Nipp. As 2011 draws to a close, so does the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Canada’s policy of Multiculturalism, spearheaded by Trudeau and adopted in 1971.

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Timo Soini: The beast behind the sugar-coated words

What does Perussuomalaiset (PS) party presidential hopeful, Timo Soini, really think about immigration and cultural diversity? A column he wrote in the latest Suomen Soini Presidentiksi [Soini for Finnish president] publication exposes what the leader of the PS thinks about such important issues.

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Different cultural diversity strokes for different folks in Finland and Europe

One matter shines through after reading and responding to the thousands of threads on Migrant Tales: multiculturalism, racism and inequality mean different things for different people. One way to make sense of the ongoing debate on Finland’s ever-growing acceptance of its cultural diversity is figuring out what these terms mean for different groups.

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Teaching Tolerance: White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy

What does “white anti-racist” mean? How can guilt get in the way? And what’s all this talk about being “colorblind”? Teaching Tolerance asked community activists to share their thoughts on these questions, and others. Their answers shine light on the concepts of comfort, power, privilege and identity.

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Exemplary Finns and exemplary immigrants

You don’t need the acceptance of over 5 million people to feel welcome in Finland. Only a few exemplary people will do, even one or two persons. Even though I am a Finn with a multicultural background, these exemplary people have given me strength and belief in this society.

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Helsingin Sanomat’s mea culpa on immigration issues

Is lack of knowledge about living in a society with a small foreign population an excuse for poor and deficient coverage of Finland’s ever-growing immigrant population? The editor of Finland’s leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, told Lahti-based Etelä-Suomen Sanomat that it has aimed to raise immigrant issues, racism and tolerance issues since society is changing and because of the political atmosphere has changed.

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Finland’s long-overdue issue with the cold war

Every country has its silent minority or majority and Finland is no different in this respect. The victory of the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) party in April raises a lot of questions: Has the ghosts of Finlandization and the Continuation War (1941-44) been resurrected?

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Perussuomalaiset: The end of imaginary Finland

The Perussuomalaiset have a long way to go before the majority of Finns, never mind immigrants and minorities, begin to accept them as a “normal” Finnish party. The racist outbursts of PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen and PS MP Jussi Halla-aho’s pledge to tighten even more the screws on immigration policy, have got people concerned about what kind of a Finland we will be living in a few years down the road.

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Finland’s winning identity of the twenty-first century

When Finland gained its independence in 1917, an extensive Finnicization program began. Those that had foreign or non-Lutheran backgrounds were encouraged to throw away their history and amalgamate. In seven years, Finland will celebrate its centenary as an independent nation. What will be its winning identity in this century?

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The multicultural society of the future

It seems odd that in today’s technilogically advanced societies in Europe and elsewhere our views of other groups continues to pose major challenges. If I had to picture the sitaution in a cartoon, I would draw a picture of one of our first primates, Australopithecus africanus, which existed 2-3 million years before present sitting in front of a computer and speaking to the future with a Skype time machine.

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