When countries become nationalism addicts and junkies

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Xenophobia tends to pile up. Like blacks in the United States, Finland’s “black” problem is Russia, and from the 1990s, Muslims.

In the 1980s, when I lived permanently in Finland, and about 12,000 foreign nationals were living in the country, the racist undercurrent that flowed like a mighty river was ever-present. It reminded you whenever you talked about the Russians and later on, Muslims became a part of that shameful picture.

That undercurrent showed itself on several occasions. It did so in the early 1990s when Somalis started to arrive in Finland. That undercurrent, especially nurtured by tabloids like Ilta-Sanomat, acted like a thug’s warning.

You will pay a high price If you get too friendly with foreigners.

That toxic undercurrent has gotten stronger in recent years. Finland’s biggest opposition party is openly Islamophobic and racist. Politicians, even in the government like MP Eveliina Heinäluoma and a long list of National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) politicians in the opposition, have cuddled up to our hostile environment.

I always say that minority rights in Finland will not improve under their leadership. And even less so if the far-right Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, Kokoomus, Center Party, Liike nyt, Christian Democrats ever get power.

Finland’s deep mistrust of Russia and Russians stems from its difficult history with that country. The war in Ukraine has only revived even more such hatred. Matters will get worse for Finland’s minorities.

We saw that in Estonia when the new government of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas announced that it would phase out the Russian language at nursery homes and schools by 2030.

About a quarter of Estonia’s population speaks Russian as their mother tongue. The right to an education and recognition will spell trouble for white Estonians by denying rights to such a large group of people.

In June, the Council of Europe expressed concern about the role of national minorities like Russian speakers and the Romany minority in society. It wrote: “The [Estonian] authorities should also ensure access to Russian as a language of instruction at all levels of the public education system and intensify the dialogue with representatives of the Russian minority.”

If matters for minorities in Estonia look bleak, the situation in Finland is nothing to write home about. The recent passage by the Finnish parliament of the contentious Border Guard Act and Emergency Powers Act is concerning and shows how little too many politicians see human rights as a nuisance, never mind care about people fleeing strife.

What is the end game of Finland’s ever-worse hostile environment against minorities and migrants? What does Estonia plan to accomplish by undermining further the rights of minorities in its country?

Criticizing the agreement between Sweden, Finland, and Turkey, Left Alliance chairperson Li Anderson was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat Saturday that she hoped that Finland should have a strong voice for human rights in Nato international law and multilateral cooperation. “These are our values that should be promoted in Nato as in other international communities like the EU,” she added.

In other words, don’t turn into a Mr. Hyde that feeds off petty and ultra nationalism, racism, and fear-mongering. Keep true to your values based on social equality for all.

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