Some Finns took a deep sigh of relief when the deadly fire that cost the lives of three innocent victims wasn’t racially motivated but one perpetrated by the immigrant owner in a failed insurance scam.
All the political gains that far-right members of the True Finns led by Jussi Halla-aho expected to make from this tragic event didn’t materialize because it was a false-alarm wake-up call to what kinds of scars racism can leave on society.
One of the greatest threats to our image abroad is racism. Imagine what would happen if our country turned into a Denmark after the April 2011 election? Where would our noble egalitarian values be? What about our world-class educational system? Would we start teaching students to loathe those that are different from us?
The Tampere fire also caused a few red faces, namely that of Social Democrat MPs Päivi Lipponen and Kimmo Kiljunen. Even before the official police report came out, both claimed that the fire was an act of racism. Lipponen apologized today in her blog for her remarks.
Adding salt to injury, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat‘s editorial slammed Lipponen and Kiljunen. It asked whether Lipponen and Kiljunen trusted “the people” of Finland. Ilta-Sanomat said that both politicians see their people so “racist, aggressive and criminal that whenever a crime happens against immigrants they automatically blame Finns.”
Pretty strong words coming from a tabloid that has shaped in many respects some Finns’ racist perceptions of foreigners especially in the early 1990s when Somalis started to come to Finland.
Despite all the questions and concern that the fire in Tampere caused, there is one matter it will not change: the challenges that Finland faces concerning its ever-growing immigration population.
It will not, unfortunately, also bring back the lives of the three persons that died.
Now the law must take its course and find suitable punishment for those that caused the crime.