Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, which was complicit in the early 1990s of spreading racism wholesale in Finland, hasn’t yet apologized for its reporting about groups like the Somalis. In an interview with a Kurdish Islamophobe, Sheida Sohrabi, Ilta-Sanomat signals that it will never apologize for its shoddy and one-sided reporting.
Sohrabi, who would be called in the United States an Uncle Tom, or Tuomo setä/Mamu setä in Finnish, is a good example of that label. While there are many definitions and explanation of what is an Uncle Tom, I consider it a close synonym of Stockholm Syndrome.
Articles like the one below are a good example of how tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat use so-called migrants to get across their prejudiced message of other migrant groups like Muslims. It is questionable if Shorabi, who came to Finland when she was five and who is a Kurd, even remembers where she was born.
Moreover, the Kurds are fighting to gain their independence and create their own country from Iraq, Turkey and Iran.
Sohrabi speaks of “cultural differences” in the story even if she came to Finland when she was five years old. Sohrabi is an aspiring National Coalition Party politician who wants to make her mark with Islamophobia. Read the original interview here.
An example of the “quality” of Finnish tabloid journalism of the early 1990s. The Ilta-Sanomat billboard affirms that Somali asylum seekers swindled the authorities in granting them refugee status.
Junes Lokka, Marco de Wit, Gleb Simanov, Miki Sileoni and too many others are examples of people who hate migrants, especially Muslims, even if they are people of foreign origin.
Migrant Tales published in 2014 the following characteristics of a Mamu setä:
- Excessive subservience to white Finns;
- Some mamus state that they are migrants but are in fact Finns since they have lived most of their lives here;
- He or she is a mouthpiece of the arguments used by some white Finns to keep migrants and visible minorities as second- and third-class citizens of society;
- Plays down and denies, like some white Finns, racism;
- Underestimates the destructive power of racism;
- Never or rarely speaks of systemic racism (accepts things as they are);
- Claims to be against racism but have the same opinions as the worst racists in Finland about minorities in his or her own country;
- Believes that kindness and understanding are the most effective ways of challenging a social ill like racism.
Whenever topics about Muslims and migrants appear in the national media, like in the case of the sexual abuse cases in Oulu, the reporting is often unbalanced. Rarely if ever do we hear the other side of the story – unless there is a Mamu setä as a source – and this causes the creation of biased and opinionated news.
The media in Finland have a lot of power and continue to play an important role in giving Islamophobic parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and members of the National Coalition Party a platform. Apart from the politicians who tried to imitate the PS’ Islamophobic and xenophobic campaign message, the media was responsible for giving the PS its historic parliamentary victory.
In 2011, the PS saw the number of its MPs soar to In their historic parliamentary election victory of 2011, the PS saw the number of MPs soar 39 seats from 5 seats before. In the 2015 election, the PS got a big boost – with the help of the media – from a sexual assault case in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila.
The big question is if the Oulu sexual assault cases, which have received wide coverage by the media, will give the PS their election lifesaver?
Some believe that without Timo Soini leading the party, the PS won’t capitalize fully on what happened in Oulu.
Isn’t it odd that Finland’s media and politicians lack the ability to grasp that the rise of Islamophobia in our country is their own making?
Here are some recommendations to the Finnish media on how to improve its reporting about migrants and Muslims:
- Use migrant and Muslim sources as experts in a balanced news story;
- Stop painting migrants and Muslims with a single brush and emphasize “us” versus “them;”
- Diversify the newsroom with people of different cultural and ethnic origin;
- Stop giving inflated respectability, importance and space to Islamophobes and xenophobes;
- When it comes to fighting Islamophobia and racism, the media in Finland should stop being part of the problem.
* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017 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 never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way.
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.