Saturday, January 19, 2013

Finns Party members antagonize minority groups in Finland

A month rarely goes by without a member of Finland's far-right Finns Party making news headlines for saying or writing something designed to incite ethnic or religious hatred. The party's members antagonize minority groups and provoke hostility through online writings and comments. This week alone, two Finns Party members called refugees and asylum seekers "rapists" and "welfare leeches".

Finland's controversial Finns party, locally called Perussuomalaiset, known for its anti-immigration and anti-European Union (EU) platform is disturbingly gaining popularity in Finland, amid concerns of growing racism and xenophobia in the Nordic country. The party's manifesto has a lot in common with right-wing populist parties across Europe that tend to follow trends that have an "authoritarian streak". The party reportedly believes that low birth rate is not solved by immigration and that women should study less and spend time giving birth to "pure" Finnish children. [Source]

Despite its faint Nazi ideology, the Finns party is doing surprisingly well in Finland. In December 2012, Finns Party support peaked. A poll commissioned by Yle showed that the party was second most popular political party in Finland at the end of 2012. Support for the party increased by 2 percent - more than any other party in the country. The fact that the party is growing is an indication that a growing number of Finns share its extreme views.

Perussuomalaiset is always on the headlines. It is famous for wrong reasons. Its members, many of whom make no secret of their xenophobic and racist stance, attack minority groups with hateful writings online. A month rarely goes by without a member of the party making news headlines for saying or writing something designed to incite ethnic or religious hatred. Two scandals hit the party this week alone.

It was reported on Monday that a councilor for the Finns Party, Mika Hiltunen, used obscene and offensive language against refugees and asylum seekers. He accused refugees and asylum seekers of being "welfare leeches and rapists". He expressly mentioned Somalians in his infamous Facebook comment. Somalians, it is worth mentioning, are among the groups most affected by racism and intolerance in Finland.

Three days later, it was reported that another Finns Party member attacked refugees and asylum seekers. Kai Haavisto proposed "medical treatment" for refugees guilty of rape. It is unclear whether he meant that refugees guilty of rape should be castrated or sterilized.

The Finns Party "distanced itself" from the comments, but it is no coincidence that both Mika Hiltunen and Kai Haavisto are its members. You can fool some people sometimes, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Perussuomalaiset is known for its anti-immigration and anti-Islamic stance, and hostility towards anything "foreign", including the EU and Swedish - Finland's second official language. The Hiltunen and Haavisto share the party's views.

Results of a poll by Helsingin Sanomat in 2011 revealed that Finns Party members are most willing to concede negative attitudes towards minorities.

Given the Finns Party's position on key issues like immigration and EU membership, should the party have its way and someday become majority in Finland's Eduskunta (parliament), Finland would isolate itself from the civilized free world and might even reconsider its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and other international treaties like the Schengen agreement.

Using refugees and immigrants as punching bags does not help Finland. On the contrary, such offensive and hateful messages antagonize minority groups and provoke hostility against the majority - thereby making Finland unsafe for both the oppressed and oppressors.

*Photo: Socialismi.net.

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