The roots of hate crime and hate speech are in Finnish society, right under our noses

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The media and police are mirrors of our prejudices in our society. Our lame reaction to such social ills not only expose our weaknesses as a society but hide and protect the real culprit: institutional racism. 

How does institutional racism survive in Finland? The answer is easy: We shield such a social ill with our silence, the way the police treats minorities and migrants, in the hateful rhetoric of politicians like Perussuomalaiset*(PS) MP Laura Huhtasaari, to just name a few.

With the rise of Islamophobic and racist politicians assured a political career, should be we surprised that hate crimes have gone up in Finland?

Hate is a powerful force and if you think it just stops with stereotyping, belittling jokes and insensitive remarks, take a look at the pyramid of hate, think twice. Its destination is genocide.

Remember when the police started to profile pizzerias ethically? They asked customers to report establishments that sold pizzas at 6 euros or below. Lidl sells pizza at a euro 1.39. Read what the BBC of London wrote about this failed police campaign here.

The police, who are overwhelmingly white in Finland, have so much power that they even claim to know more than the victims of racism.

An unfortunate example of the latter is the vile attack against a Pakistani on February 23The police claim that what happened to the Pakistani wasn’t a hate crime even if he suffered over 20 stabbings and other injuries. The statement was made without asking what the victim thought.

This narrative of power is too familiar in our country. White folks, which may be well-intentioned, are near-constantly speaking on behalf of minorities and are the final judges of how severe racism and discrimination are in this country. 

Why should I trust the police? What has the police done to win my trust?

The Finnish police don’t like diversity, especially if the woman is a visible minority with a hijab. Read the full story here.

It’s not social media that has destroys their reputation but their questionable actions and blind spots on racism. With each denial, they give their credibility a new blow.

An example of the latter took place in April 2016, when the carried out spot checks in Helsinki, Espoo, and Vantaa. They said that they were doing spot checks on “foreigners” and “foreign-looking” people while denying at the same time that their actions weren’t ethnic profiling.

How many times have we heard the police say that they are doing spot checks of “foreign-looking” people? By making such a statement, the police reveal how out of touch they are with modern Finland and why there are so few visible minorities and migrants in the police service.

A recent case of poor policing was seen at the beginning of February when they carried out spot checks at the Puhos shopping center of East Helsinki, where they allegedly tried to enter a mosque with a dog and shoes. Anyone who knows anything about Somalis understands that it is not only disrespectful to enter a mosque with a dog and shoes, but people from that country fear such animals.

Apart from ethnic profiling, spot checks, secret Facebook groups spreading racist views, a survey in 2016 revealed that close to 80% of the police consider asylum seekers as the biggest threat to Finnish security. Moreover, the poll showed that 25% voted for the National Coalition party and 24% for the anti-immigration PS party.

The police can mirror the worst prejudices of our society but also be a wake-up call of what it should not be.

* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity. One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic.

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.

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