Verkkouutiset: Stubb: Maahanmuuttokeskustelun ilmapiiri ahdistava

by , under All categories, Enrique

Comment: It is not the first time that Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb has taken a strong stand against the xenophobia, racism and ignorance that too often characterizes the ongoing debate on immigrants and immigration to Finland.  About a month before the election on April 17,  it not only takes leadership but guts to speak out against what Stubb calls  an “oppressive” debating atmosphere.

The foreign minister was quoted as saying at a seminar on immigrant employment in Helsinki that Finland owes its success and economic growth to its openness and internationalization. “Success requires that internationalization also takes place in this country,” he said on Verkkouutiset, a Kokoomus electronic publication. Tabloid Iltalehti wrote (in Finnish) about Stubb’s comments as well.

Three matters emerge frequently when reading the arguments of some Finns who see immigration as a threat: fear, low self-esteem and ignorance. Even if some are misinformed and carry theories on cultures and ethnicities dating back to the nineteenth century, they can always learn from their mistakes.

Teaching people to control their racism is just as important as teaching democracy, equality and human rights.  Why? Because society works better than when it is based on inequality, racism and prejudice.

Are you of the same opinion?


Ulkoministeri Alexander Stubbin (kok.) mielestä Suomessa käytävän maahanmuutto- ja kansainvälisyyskeskustelun ilmapiiri on tällä hetkellä ahdistava.

The keep on reading click here.

  1. JusticeDemon

    Ahdistava is more like “stifling” or “oppressive” than “disturbing”.

    I don’t think Stubb said anything particularly new or even controversial. What puzzles me most is why he would even be invited to a conference on immigrant employment, as this subject has desperately little to do with his present job or, as far as I know, any other position that he has held in or out of politics. This does not even look like the kind of event that he would be especially keen to attend, let alone address. It would be more than a little odd if he was intending to launch a bid for any associated ministerial portfolio, as this would be a step down for him.

    • Enrique

      –Ahdistava is more like “stifling” or “oppressive” than “disturbing”.

      Thank you for pointing that out, JusticeDemon.

  2. Martin-Éric

    Because both Sinnemäki and Stubb are considered progressive politicians that have frequently spoken in favor of migrant labor and tolerance. Sinnemäki was the minister of labor in the outgoing government, while Stubb appeared in the video against homophobia that circulated a while back. Both of them are also considered as youthful and trendy in a sea of desperately outdated old-fashion politicians. At least, that’s how vox populi would have it. Personally, I think that Sinnemäki repeatedly failed at demonstrating any understanding whatsoever of labour issues, not to mention of immigrant issues. As for Stubb, while he is a good sport, I’ll have to say “no cigar” for failing to reform his ministry into something better adapted to today’s diplomatic needs.

  3. Martin-Éric

    About Stubb again, let’s not forget how this country has sheepishly combined immigrant, ethnic minority and sexual minority issues into the same bag of yhdenvertaisuus. This is partly why practically every significant position in immigration affairs these days is held by a a Swedish-speaker: they are from one of Finland’s OWN ethnic minorities. Never mind that the average immigrant doesn’t see themselves in Eva Biaudet, Alexander Stubb, Astrid Thors or Stefan Wallin; as far as this country is concerned, they have done their job of giving minorities a place under the sun.
    As a byproduct, recent government positions granted to immigrants have mostly been granted to immigrants who integrated in Swedish-majority municipalities.
    Q: Guess which ethnic group was welcomed and integrated by Swedish-speaking municipalities?
    A: Somalians.
    One of my recent findings has been that Somalians indeed are a very rare group of immigrants that factually master both national languages as a resultof having started their lives in Finland in a Swedish-speaking municipality and later improved their Finnish in e.g. Jyväskylä while doing their master degree.

  4. Klay_Immigrant

    ‘Poll: True Finns edge their way to number two spot’

    ‘The populist right-of-centre True Finns party has edged its way past the Social Democratic Party and the Centre Party, and is now the second-most popular political group in Finland. A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup gives the True Finns 18.4 per cent support.’

  5. Klay_Immigrant

    Also this year, the heads of both the National Coalition and the Centre Party said they would consider forming a government coalition with the True Finns.

  6. Jonas

    Martin-Eric, Several Swedish-speaking municipalities in Österbotten have been acclaimed for their successes with integration. But generally, it has not really been Somalians that have made up the bulk of these well-immigrated immigrants but people from the former Yugoslavia (Bosnians, Croats, Kosovo Albanians etc). At least, that has always been my impression. I would be highly interested to hear more on these Somalians though and hope very much that is true. Good on them, if so!

    It is interesting that you hold the position that Swedish-speaking Finns are an ethnic minority. Many would not agree. I would be amongst the group that disagrees. Anyhow, I don’t think Swedish-speakers have been appointed to positions dealing with immigrants because they are Swedish-speaking. Thors is most likely migration minister because she is from a party that is perhaps the most pro-immigration in the government. Indeed, in yesterday’s Hufvudstadsbladet the main election advert from SFP featured a pro-immigration slogan. Also, it’s likely the other parties in the government were only too happy not to have this position as they know it makes it easy for the populist anti-immigration elements to attack them. As for Alexander Stubb, he has done almost nothing for Swedish-speaking Finns. He is an opportunist and out purely for self-gain, this is most likely why he joined Kokoomus and not SFP. He has gone out of his way to avoid condemning the current tone of the language debate . I have never read or heard anything where he condemned his own party’s youth organisation either, which has taken extremely intolerant lines on both immigration and the Swedish language.

    Klay, what Helsingin Sanomat don’t tell you (for reasons of not lessening the sensationalist value of the report) is that the figures for the Basic/True Finns, Centre and SDP are all within the two percent margin of error for that poll. So, who actually knows if the Basic Finns are second, third of fourth even according to that poll. In any case, I suspect that their high ratings in opinion polls will not be entirely borne out in the one poll that counts, the election itself. I suspect that many people who are disaffected with the established parties and politics as a whole answer True Finns when asked in such surveys, but are actually less inclined to vote than supporters of the established parties. Also, much is down to Soini’s popularity. The party has few other figures in the limelight. Only the electorate in Uusimaa will have the possibility to vote for Soini. I suspect many that consider voting True Finns that go to the voting stations in other electoral districts will end up voting for a more recognisable name from another party.

    • Enrique

      Klay, before putting a video clip why don’t you tell us why you think this is important, why is he qualified to speak about immigration and what his agenda is. But let me help you out here: Pat Condell is a British comedian who speaks out against Islam. Could you please continue…

  7. Martin-Éric

    Klay: your comment about the True Finns’ rise doesn’t belong in this thread about Stubb.

    Jonas: Actually, the assertion that Swedish speakers hold all the key positions in immigration affairs because the ideas of national ethnic minority and migrant minorities are purposely confused has already been acknowledged by none other than Thors’ team, during the aftermath of Eva Biaudet’s nomination as Ombudsman of Minorities. After initially denying that the nomination by a special procedure didn’t break the rules or wasn’t arranged as a political trade, they made a backflip and conceded that it is was exactly what happened, but wondered why people made such a fuss about doing what has always been done.

  8. Martin-Éric

    PS: Jonas, you can disagree with the idea that Swedish-speakers are an ethnic minority all you want, but the numbers speak clearly: there’s less than 5% of Swedish-speakers left in this country.

  9. JusticeDemon


    You claim to know about Islam.

    Pat Condell says the following at 4.59 of that video:

    One inconvenient fact, however, is that the Qur’an tells Moslems to hate Jews because they’re Jews.

    Why don’t you show us where the Qur’an says that?

    If you can’t do so, because the Qur’an says no such thing, then doesn’t this video constitute Islamophobic propaganda?

    Don’t hold back – tell us the truth. We can take it.


    I don’t think Jonas would disagree with the claim that Swedish speakers are a minority, but they’re no more an ethnic minority than musicians or poker players. That is, unless you buy into the bättre folk stereotype.

  10. Martin-Éric

    JusticeDaemon: well they view themselves as bättre folk, which is fine by me as long as they also acknowledge being mindre folk given their insignificant numbers. 🙂

  11. Jonas

    Hi Martin-Eric, Justice Demon is absolutely right. My disagreement with your assertion that Swedish-speakers form an ‘ethnic’ minority has nothing to do with the statistics relating to the mother tongue of inhabitants (a news story from yesterday for you on that matter: Although, you should note we are not less than five percent. It’s the term ‘ethnic’ minority that I, and I suspect most, Swedish-speakers would disagree with. We don’t see ourselves as belonging to a different ethnicity for the most part. There are those that do, most especially in some areas in Österbotten, but I strongly believe that the majority do not. To employ a cliche, we are ett folk med två språk.

    Your assertion that “they view themselves as bättre folk” is absolute nonsense, the sort of thing one hears from Basic Finns and Suomalaisuuden liito. I am sad that you have swallowed a stereotype so wholly.

    • Enrique

      Hi Jonas, what do you think has been the role of the Suomalaisuuden liitto in the shaping of a Finnish national identity? So far we ave the True/Basic Finns, especially the Halla-ahos guided by Suomen Sisu, but you do not hear very much about the Suomalaisuuden liitto. Weren’t they responsible in the 1920s for Finns with “foreign,” even Swedish surnames, to change them into Finnish ones?

  12. Jonas

    Suomalaisuuden liitto is a sad history. They did indeed campaign for the finnicisation of surnames in their earlier days, perhaps especially Swedish ones. And during the inter-war era they were highly nationalistic and involved in the so-called language strife. But, after the wars of the 1940s, they became more moderate and mainly worked to forward the Finnish language in the cultural sphere. They had been charged with informing about the Finnish flag and received state subsidies for this activity. To this day, they are the organisation that raises the Finnish flag in the morning of Independence Day, usually in the President of the Republic’s presence (see this blog entry I made a couple of years ago: I personally find this role highly distasteful. It is the flag of all Finnish people and I don’t see why extremists should be responsible for raising what is also my flag on what is also my Independence Day.

    But in the 1980s, their leadership once again became hijacked by extremists. Since then they have moved ever more rightwards, especially under the leadership of the until recently head of the organisation Heikki Tala. Tala is a highly unpleasant individual who sees Swedish-speakers to blame for more or less everything. He once left a comment on my blog that I judged to be so extreme as to potentially be illegal under the laws against incitement to racial hatred (hets mot folkgrupp), so I had to decide to moderate it away. He is standing as a parliamentary candidate in the election for the Basic Finns, note his anti-Swedish comments on Yle’s Candidate Selection Test even on questions with no relation to language: Their state subsidies were withdrawn some years back when after many unsuccessful motions, SFP finally managed to draw parliament’s attention to the fact that Suomalaisuuden liitto was refusing to give information on the flag in both of the national languages and was happily stating that this was because it was against Swedish. The Basic Finns have recently called for its state subsidies to be returned in parliamentary motions. It should be noted that Suomalaisuuden liitto’s membership is apparently extremely small, which even more calls into question its role regarding the flag.