Friday, April 13, 2012

Finland: Distasteful suggestion that minorities should wear armbands

In Hitler's Germany, people from minority groups - Jews, Roma and homosexuals - were forced to wear armbands. Jews were marked with Jewish stars and armbands by the NS regime in ghettos and concentration camps. In concentration camps, they wore signs to distinguish them from non-Jewish prisoners. [Source]. A look into history is necessary in order to put into perspective a controversial blog post by Helena Eronen, a Perussuomalaiset aide in Finland. The assistant of a "True" Finns Party MP suggested in a blog post that people from minority groups in Finland should be forced to wear symbols on their sleeves.

Helena Eronen blogged on Wednesday 11 April 2012 that foreigners, Swedish-speaking Finns and homosexuals should be forced to wear symbols so that the police can easily identify their background. [Source]. She said for instance that marks will help the police easily identify a Muslim from Somalia or a beggar from Romania. According to Eronen, Muslims should be marked with a crescent, Russians with a sickle and hammer, Cambodians with landmines and Americans with hamburgers. [Source].

She wrote the blog post after reports of racial profiling by Finnish police.

Some have called Helena Eronen's blog post "satire", but to many others, including me, it's distasteful, offensive and proposes institutionalized racial or ethnic profiling. Her suggestion evokes memories of the holocaust and how a group of people were literally "marked"  for discrimination, degrading treatment and death by a brutal regime.

Eronen is an assistant of James Hirvisaari, an MP of the populist right-wing Perussuomalaiset political party. Hirvisaari was convicted and fined for hate speech in 2011. [Source]. Not surprisingly, he defended his assistant's distasteful comments targeting minorities and reportedly republished her blog post on his own website after it was deleted from where it was originally posted.

The parliamentary group of Perussuomalaiset reportedly decided that Helena Eronen should be sacked immediately from her position as parliamentary aide. This could be an attempt by the anti-immigration and Euro-skeptic party to safe face, but the harm has already been done. What the party is made of is no longer a secret. It remains to be seen whether Eronen's boss - who seemingly shares her views - will give her the boot as decided by the parliamentary group.

*Photo: History in Chronology.


  1. Just came across your post, which I read with great interest. I find the comments of Helena Eronen rather disturbing. There is enough racial hatred and violence in this world without people like her 'pouring petrol on the fire' so to speak.
    I just wish more people would speak up against things like this. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    1. Thanks for weighing in. Hopefully, lessons have been learned by the author of this controversy and all those who have heard the story or participated in the debate.

  2. I think people like these that don't think anything good for mankind should not be given any form of publicity. When we spread their extreme ideas and views, they feel that their opinion counts beside I agree we all have to commend it.


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