We read about the brutal assault against a Perussuomalaiset (PS)* campaign manager Pekka Kataja. There was great interest in what happened when he mentioned that the suspect(s) were probably “Arab-looking.” Silence befell the PS after Kataja changed his story by claiming that the attackers were probably from the far-right.
One question that arises here is why is Kataja so keen on telling us what ethnic or political grouping they were?
In February 2018, a Pakistani was brutally assaulted in Vantaa by three white Finnish youths. Apart from being stabbed up to thirty times, suffering a fractured skull and other injuries, interest in the story ended after the police said four days after the assault that the attack was not a hate crime.
The police announced Tuesday that charges against the suspects changed from attempted manslaughter to attempted murder after five days that the crime took place. With the case of the Pakistani victim, the police changed the charges weeks later in April to attempted murder from attempted manslaughter.
While both stories have race or ethnicity as underlying factors, in the beginning, this changed and this forced interest to die down. What emerged after that was hypocrisy.
PS chairperson Jussi Halla-aho and party secretary Simo Grönroos were quoted in Kainuun Sanomat as saying after the attack that it was politically motivated.
“Everything suggests that this was not an isolated crime, but specifically an attack against Kataja, the party’s political activities and an attempt at homicide,” Halla-aho and Grönroos were quoted as saying in Kainuun Sanomat.
One PS member, MEP Laura Huhtasaari’s aide, went as far as to suggest the conspiracy theory that the hit job against Kataja came from the EU elite and EU secret services.
Attempting to picture Kataja as a political martyr, the speaker of parliament, Anu Vehviläinen, stated in the tweet below that those responsible for what happened must be brought before justice.
But let’s go back to the original question: What type of violence captures the interest of the media, social media, politicians, and the general public?
As mentioned, when Kataja stated that he suspected the far right of attacking him, the PS fell silent. The same matter happened in the case of the Pakistani: Interest by the media fell after the police mentioned that what happened was not a hate crime.
It appears that the Kataja incident, which is dreadful and we should strongly condemn, may surprise us yet again. The PS has an issue with far-right ideology, and it is no secret that Kataja has made Islamophobic statements in the past.
What far-right groups did he not get along becasue there are a lot of them in the PS. Is he talking about Suomen Sisu?
Kataja is also the aide of PS MP Jouni Kotiaho, who wrote in an OP-ED piece in Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen that the radical right is “insignificant group” in Finland even if some have accused the PS, the second biggest party in parliament, of being radical right.
Moreover, Kataja’s boss claims in the Keskisuomalainen column that “[e]ven, if you can count the number of Nazi supporters with one’s fingers and racism does not happen in practice in Finland at all.”
As we are trying to figure out if Kataja’s story holds water or if what happened was something personal as some suspect. Let’s stop all this hypocrisy about how much we are against political violence and violence in general, which is targetted by the PS against Muslims and people of color.
But let’s agree on one matter: condemn all types of violence irrespective of the victim’s background. The ethnic background of the victim should not be a factor in how much media attention a victim gets.