Friday, July 5, 2013

Racially abusive response to Finnish language course tweet

I have met and worked with great Finns who promote diversity and respect people irrespective of race, ethnic origin, gender, belief or sexuality. On the other hand, I have had experiences with another set of Finns who come across as outright racist and xenophobic.

I am active on Twitter and I interact on the social networking site with people from different parts of the world; people with varying opinions and perspectives on a variety of world affairs. Interactions get heated sometimes and some people make shocking expressions that, in my view, mirror who they are and what they stand for in real life.

On 4 July 2013, a Finnish Twitter user tweeted a racist response to one of my tweets.

F-word, n-word rapists

In June, I tweeted a link to a news report that an immigrant in Helsinki can wait on queue for over four months for a place to learn Finnish language so as to have a  possibility to join the Finnish workforce or take a professional course as part of the "integration programme" for immigrants run by employment offices.

In response, more than two weeks later, Twitter user Jaska Reinikainen used racist and abusive language. Roughly translated to English, he wrote (in poorly punctuated Finnish language):
"Nothing prevents you from studying independently f***** n***** rapists go to hell!!!" #n*****chancre
 The tweet is nothing but a blatant expression of racist sentiments and hate. It reflects everyday abuse directed at visible minorities in Finland.

In my opinion, such language is inappropriate. It incites hatred against people of African descent by branding them rapists. The tweet gives credence to accounts of hostility toward people of African descent and immigrants in Finland.

Police Net Tip

Finland has a population of over 5 million people. I am confident that the majority won't approve such racist and abusive language.

In the meantime, Finnish police have an online service known as Net Tip (in Finnish: Nettivinkki) through which online crimes, including racist and hate crimes, criminal threats or incitement against an ethnic group could be reported. I would consider using the service.

Just so we are clear: I won't be intimidated or bullied into silence and I encourage everyone faced with racism and racial abuse to stand up and speak up. I will continue to raise issues that adversely affect immigrants and other minorities in Finland and elsewhere.

Thanks to my blog neighbor, Migrant Tales, for all the support.

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