Why we should treat Pia Kauma’s apology with tweezers

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Wouldn’t you have known it. After labeling and victimizing migrant women in Finland on Friday, who she claimed were buying new baby carriages with social assistance, the National Coalition Party MP Pia Kauma now apologizes for what she said, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Is her apology sincere or a sham?

Kuvankaappaus 2014-9-3 kello 14.46.51
Read full story (in Finnish) here.

In many countries, anti-immigration politicians first give hostile sound bites to journalists. Whether the journalists find out in a later story that what the politician said was true or not, the message is out there and the damage has been done.

This is exactly the impact of Kauma’s statement: An old urban tale has been reinforced to racists. And there are many out there in this country.

As Migrant Tales correctly pointed out on Friday,  there’s always the danger that Kauma’s claim gives ammunition to racists to harass and even physically assault migrant women with baby carriages.

According to Abridrahim “Husu” Hussein, a host of the Ali and Husu radio talk show, said on Helsingin Sanomat that Somalis have become the targets of Kauma’s comments.

“Somalis are responsible for nine out of ten things that involve migrants,” he said. “I have heard from Somali mothers that over the weekend they have been stared at with one being pictured in secret.”

Kauma said that her intention was not to victimize migrant mothers with baby carriages but to bring attention to Espoo’s poor financial situation.

When asked to backup her claim Monday on YLE’s A-Studio, it was clear that her claim was based on hearsay.

”Of course it’s very difficult to get factual information,” she said,  “but I have been in politics for ten years and traveled throughout Finland from time to time and have and got similar comments from many different people. I was contacted about this matter recently.”

If Kauma would have got in touch with social workers in Espoo, it would have become clearly evident that there is no preferential treatment of migrants and that assistant for baby carriages amounts to only 200 euros.

Migrant Tales doubts the sincerity of Kauma’s apology.

The MP got what she sought: media attention as parliamentary elections near in April.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.