The most recent death threats to some members of Finland’s government as well as immigrants reported by Nelonen television by a group of fanatics is in some cases the doing of the politicians, who have not spoken out strongly enough against racism but have by and large preferred to remain silent on the matter.
Their timidness to such a threat has only emboldened fanatics.
UPDATE March 2: A good example of such hesitancy was pointed out by Jonas, who regularly visits our blog: Vanhanen, speaking to the Swedish news division of Yle, did condemn the death threat to Thors – but only worryingly several days later and then only after Stefan Wallin demanded it. And, as far as I am aware, I am yet to hear him do the same thing in the Finnish-language mass media, which is yet more concerning.
The death threats can be accessed at the following website. In the blog, the anonymous Finn gives a short bio of himself/herself after threatening to murder four members of government, President Tarja Halonen and encourage others to kill immigrants: I am a normal (?!) working family man/woman. I don´t hate foreigners and I am apolitical. I understand, however, that we are at a crossroads with respect to our country. (Olen tavallinen työssäkäyvä perheellinen. En vihaa ulkomaalaisia enkä omaa mitään poliitista suuntausta. Ymmärrän kuitenkin, että olemme tärkeässä ratkaisupisteessä maamme kannalta.)
Minister of migration and European affairs, Astrid Thors, who has been the center of a number of death threats by anti-immigrant extremists, has been one of their prime targets.
What is most surprising about this recent incident is that it happened in a country that prizes itself for being a Nordic welfare state and whose educational system has received global recognition in the Pisa study. The Pisa study does not evaluate the knowledge of 15 year olds in humanities but in math, reading and science.
Where have we gone wrong?
Throughout my years in Finland I have heard various politicians tell me in silence that they do not consider it wise to stand up too vociferously in favor of immigrants because of the strong anti-foreign sentiment.
I remember writing a feature on refugees in Mikkeli in eastern Finland in the early 1990s for a large-circulation weekly. I received as a result three death threats. It was a good matter that my then-six-year-old daughter did not answer the phone.
Even though the police are investigating this recent incident, it is clear that these types of groups are a problem in Finland. Not acknowledging them or hiding our heads in the sand will only fuel the problem. How many more alarm bells do we need to hear?
The way that a democratic society deals with groups that take the law in their hands is with the full weight of the law and by speaking out against the problem.
Finland cannot afford anything less.