Many foreigners living in Finland have come to terms with the bitter reality of the fact that racism and xenophobia run deep - both online and offline. In 2011, Former president Tarja Halonen acknowledged the rise of racism and xenophobia in Finland and urged Finns to "dare defend" victims of racism. The Deputy Prosecutor General, Jorma Kalsky, condemned politicians for using hate speech to win votes. The Ombudsman for Minorities, Eva Biaudet expressed concern about hate speech online and on the ground. Despite all these calls by some top ranking Finnish officials, racism persists. A fellow blogger who writes about "salient issues" facing immigrants and minority groups in Finland was recently attacked online with racial slurs and xenophobic language.
On 17 March 2012, the author of Migrant Tales reported on his blog that his picture was copied from Facebook without his consent and posted on a Finnish website alongside offensive and abusive language against his person.
I read the post and was taken aback by the language used against him. He was called "an immigrant douche","mudface", "immigrant mudface" and "n*****" - for advocating multiculturalism and diversity in Finland and for "bashing" the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) - an extreme right-wing anti-immigration political party.
The racist content is posted on a Finnish website either anonymously or using pseudonyms. It is worth mentioning at this point that I have long held the view that people who post abusive and unreasonable comments online anonymously or using pseudonyms are cowards who lack the courage to take responsibility for their actions.
It is ironic that people who think that there's no racism and/or xenophobia in Finland use racist and xenophobic language to make their case. This is a perfect example of what "shoot yourself in the foot" means.
This outright display of racism and online bullying adds perspective to the plight of immigrants and minority groups in Finland and proves Migrant Tales right.
The administrator of the website that provides the platform for hate and racial slurs has misguidedly tried to evoke freedom of expression as justification for racist and xenophobic language posted on his site. He seems to be unaware that rights come with duties and responsibilities. Article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) states that the right to free expression "may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary".
It therefore follows that racial slurs, hate speech, incitement of hate and death threats are not protected by Article 10 of the ECHR and other human rights instruments.
Finnish law frowns on racism, incitement of hate, death threats and the violation of the rights of others, including the right to privacy - which was violated the moment a private individual's picture was hijacked from Facebook without his permission, superimposed with racially offensive texts and posted on a hostile website.
These attacks against Migrant Tales are criminal and immoral attempts to intimidate and silence a blogger who writes about issues facing immigrants and minority groups in Finland.
According to Migrant Tales, the matter was reported to the police on 17 March 2012.
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