Who is responsible for the rise in hate crimes in Finland?

by , under All categories, Enrique

Enrique Tessieri

Apart from the usual social-media lynch mobs roaming the net, we have now seen since the April 17 election a worrying rise in hate crimes in Finland. The matter has escalated to such proportions that President Tarja Halonen expressed concern this week over the problem.

One important matter to keep in mind when battling a foe like racism is that we can never underestimate its devastating power never mind run away from its challenge.

Finland must do the same. It is pretty clear that we cannot any longer pretend that racism isn’t a problem in our society.

An important question to ask is what is fuelling it.

Even if we cannot blame a single party or group we can, however, demand parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) as well as others to address the menace with much greater resolve.

The same worrisome trend we are seeing in Finland is also present throughout Europe. Right-wing populist parties have grown in size in past years and are pointing the finger at immigrants for all of the country’s problems. This questionable style of politicking is unacceptable and should be strongly condemned by sensible people.

Another indication that matters may be spiralling out of hand was an attack this week of the speaker of the house, Ben Zyskowicz. The assailant tried to hit the Kokoomus MP before calling him a dirty Jew.

What can be done? Is their enough political will to tackle this problem? Would a party like the PS, which bases much of support on anti-immigration rhetoric, openly condemn racism and isolate MPs like Jussi Halla-aho and others that are members of the Nazi-spirited Suomen Sisu association?

Would the PS be the same party if it abandoned its strong anti-immigration stance?

Despite these serious challenges for Timo Soini’s party, it is pretty clear that the PS does not consider racism a big enough problem to condemn without conditions. The party lost a good opportunity to set the record straight in their statement against racism. Instead of condemning racism and discrimination, the PS preferred to make a case against so-called positive discrimination.

It would be naive to suggest that only the PS is responsible for the escalation of hate crimes in Finland. We should look at parties like Kokoomus and Social Democrats. A definite sore spot for Kokoomus has been Wille Rydman. Eero Heinäluoma has claimed, among other things, that hundreds of thousands of Estonian workers will invade and steal jobs from Finns.

The PS’ statement against racism, Rydman’s toughened stance against the treatment of immigrants and Heinäluoma’s scare tactics are not racist but they fuel a climate of suspicion and resentment of immigrants in Finland.

But who is the culprit for the recent spate in hate crimes in Finland?

One of these is poor economic growth and rising unemployment. Even so, an even bigger one are public officials who fuel it directly or indirectly with their statments and actions.

If we don’t nip racism in the bud in Finland it will end up nipping us.

Skilled labor, foreign investment and innovation rarely flourishes in hostile and bigoted environments.

  1. Hannu

    And btw attack against ben was more probably communist or islamist, most probably it was just drunk who didnt like him.

  2. Singaporean_in_Finland


    I would like to know how it feels to live with your head in the sand.

    Every single day now we hear of more and more people coming forward with reports of attacks.

    The ONLY people in Finland who attack minorities are the radical right wing extremists linked to Suomen Sisu, a group that PS openly courts for votes and where they get their political doctrine from.

    Remember last year’s attacks by the extreme right on the Helsinki Gay Pride Parade?

    “In a 2007 study of 669 racist crimes identified in 2005, only twenty-five people were convicted, resulting in twelve people receiving fines. The majority of racist crimes reported are assaults on people, vandalism, defamation and threats. Seven out of ten racist crimes occur against foreigners and 85% of those instituting racist crimes are males between the ages of 15-24. Over half of crimes take place in southern Finland around Helsinki, which is where immigrants are living. Ten percent of crimes are against members of the Roma (gypsy) minority.”

  3. Singaporean_in_Finland

    In a 2009 EU study, it was shown that Somalis living in Finland face more racist threats, harassment and violence than any other minority in Europe.

    In the survey, 74 out of 100 Somalis had experienced attacks or harassment compared with 44 out of 100 North Africans in Italy, 42 out of 100 Romas in the Czech Republic and the 40 out of 100 Somalis in Denmark.


  4. Arto

    Enrique, I feel you have a wrong attitude, if you think problems of immigration or foreign labour should not be talked about because there might be some people in Finland that get the wrong idea. I think it is the most dangerous attitude if silence is required and some subjects are “forbidden” in discussion. It is not democracy.

    Even if racism would really explode in Finland, we should not stop talking about immigration policy. Quite the opposite. It is very important both to discuss openly and also share information openly. If people get the feeling that the government tries to ban discussion and does not communicate its policy, this is prone to increase racism – even if the protest should then really be against politicians and not the immigrants.

    If the government feels it is practicing good immigration policy that will benefit the country, it should work to communicate this more efficiently to the public.

    • Enrique

      –Enrique, I feel you have a wrong attitude, if you think problems of immigration or foreign labour should not be talked about because there might be some people in Finland that get the wrong idea.

      What are we doing here? And do you think discussing openly in insulting different ethnic groups? Is that discussing “openly” and is it conducive? I think you are a bit stuck in the cliches of places like Hommaforum or the PS.

      The problem, I think, is that people don’t know how to discuss immigration. And what is even more shameful is that they’d never talk that way to their own people.

  5. Arto

    Enrique, perhaps I misunderstood then. I got the feeling that the people you mentioned in your blog would in you opinion somehow done something wrong by opening their mouths.

    “And do you think discussing openly in insulting different ethnic groups?”

    Certainly not. I think such behaviour is fortunately quite rare.

  6. Arto

    To the question of the headline: a major part of people are imbeciles. That is the reason such crimes happen. There no reason to try find political decision-makers as responsibles.

  7. Hannu

    Singaporean you are an idiot, you dont have anything except “enrique racism” what isnt anything. And that “study” about somalis…. Their thought and no prove. They fuck up and then dont understand why people dont like them,,,,
    Now show me that attacks on gay parade were linked to anything, show me.
    And if you look on “racist crimes” then youll see that even there foreigners are overpresented.

  8. Mary Mekko

    Enrique, you say that “skilled labor, foreign investment and innovation rarely flourishes in hostile and bigoted environments.” That sounds good until you try to prove it. Have you been to Japan? Labor and investment flourish in a very, very bigoted environment, one of the most racially intolerant places on earth. The individual Japanese is not “born a bigot” but raised to think he/she is a special rare species of the human race, superior to all others. End result? They work like devils, study like Lenin (as one used to say in USSR, hee hee), and produce some of the top products of the planet. Next, we have China, another extremely bigoted and hostile place. They also work like devils, study like Lenin and produce an incredible abundance of products. They have a fascist type government in both countries, they’re intolerant to the extreme, and freedoms are very limited. YET! They’re doing great!

    So maybe Finland should consider these two high-achievement nations as their models IF high productivity and profits are the goal of a nation.

    Or are they only YOUR goals?

    Please give counterexamples to prove your point, thank you. Blanket statements are a bore. Let’s have a real debate.

  9. Singaporean_in_Finland

    You’re the only idiot here looking for communists and islamists where there are none. I’ve given you results of scientific studies and you respond with no counter facts, just bigoted insults.

    Your head is still firmly in the sand.

  10. phillip

    Obviously the people responsible for the rise in hate crimes in Finland are the ones perpetrating the hate crimes and no one else.

    • Enrique

      Hi Phillip and welcome to Migrant Tales! I had the opportunity to visit Ireland in late-June for a second time. One of the interesting things about your country is that there are no anti-immigration right-wing populist parties irrespective of the economic situation. Moreover, your immigration population grew rapidly to about 12% in a short time. Here in Finland, however, it is a different story.