Two stories that reveal a lot about racism in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Two stories that expose injustice and denial in Finland became public this week: First, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland ruled Thursday that the police ethnically profiled singer Musta Barbari’s mother and sister in July 2016. The other news is about an Iraqi youth who white Finns violently attacked in July 2020. 

Both cases are not only concerning but revealing. Ethnic profiling and suspected hate crime cases drag their feet in Finland’s legal system. Musta Barbari’s mother and sister finally saw justice after six years, while Fares Al-Obaidi’s case was decided by a court two years and two months later.

Read the full story here.

The legal path of Musta Barbari’s mother and sister to the Supreme Administrative Court was long and winding:

  • They were stopped on July 9, 2016, by plainclothes policemen in the Helsinki city center on suspicion that they were prostitutes;
  • The mother and sister refused to give their ID and were found guilty in December 2017 by the police of disobedience;
  • An appeal was made to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal, which found the police guilty of ethnic profiling and ordered a conditional fine of 10,000 euros to Musta Barbari’s mother and sister;
  • In April 2021, a Helsinki Administrative Court overturned the National Non-discrimination and Equality Tribunal’s decision;
  • On Thursday, the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland overturned the Helsinki Administrative Court’s ruling.

The most disappointing ruling involved Al-Obaidi, where the police and the prosecutor did not see racism as having anything to do with the fight. Even if a group of white Finns attacked him, only one was charged with assault.

Read the full story (in Finnish/paywall) here.

According to the prosecutor, Al-Obaidi was not attacked because of his ethnic background.

Al-Obaidi disagrees.

Will this case face a long and winding legal path like the one suffered by Musta Barbari’s mother and sister?