THIS STORY WAS UPDATED
The mayor of Teuva Veli Nummela, the town’s newspaper Tejuka were straightforward about the attack against a Muslim in early June in the western Finnish town of Teuva.
Nummela wrote in a blog about the anti-racism work done at the town’s schools. “We will evaluate these practices [anti-racism] at the beginning of the new school year. We want to do our best in the fight against racism and violence and respect for human rights.”
Tejukka‘s June 17 editorial, “Measuring civility,” where it not only openly condemns what happened to the Muslim, but that “racism should not be accepted in any shape or form.”
The town newspaper published an editorial and several stories about the incident interviewing the victim, the police, and a foreigner living in Teuva.
If we look at the motive of the attack (bias indicators), there is a strong case to charge the perpetrators with a hate crime.
The police are not ruling out a hate crime but appear not to be in any rush to do so.
So what makes what happened on June 7 to a young Muslim a hate crime?
A hate crime is a criminal offense that has a bias motivation targeting a particular group that could be based on real or perceived gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability.
Even if crimes are serious offenses, a hate crime can have a lasting impact on the victim and the community.
If we look at some possible bias indicators of the Muslim in Teuva in early June, they could be victim perception (white Finns versus a Muslim), intense violence (the victim ended going to the hospital), his property (a car) was damaged. Later there was graffiti written on it.
According to the Criminal Code of Finland (766/2015), Section 5, there are grounds for increasing the punishment if the crime “was based on race, skin color, birth status, national of ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability of another corresponding grounds.”
I spoke with the Muslim today and he is recovering from what happened.
“I will move [from Kristiinankaupunki] to Helsinki at the end of this month,” he said. “I cannot live here because I am afraid to go outside.”
The reaction and impact of the crime have all the characteristics of how hate crimes affect the victim and community.
While hate speech is not a hate crime, in this case, it is a strong case for bias motivation. The suspects threatened to kill him, and while assaulted, an older man asked him to “ask Allah for help.”
I would be very surprised if the police do not charge the suspects for committing a hate crime. Contrarily, it would be another blow to police credibility and reinforce that the police are not interested in protecting minorities.
The bias indicators speak for themselves and suggest that what happened was no ordinary crime.