Monday, April 30, 2012

MP says Finland is for Finnish people

Like many European countries, Finland has seen a rise in far-right populism and extreme political views in recent years. Anti-immigration sentiments run high. Islamophobia and xenophobia  are daily realities. One political party - Perussuomalaiset (PS) - champions the cause against immigration in the Nordic country.

PS Members of Parliament and supporters, including folks like Teuvo Hakkarainen, Jussi Halla-aho, Tommi Rautio, just to name a few, make no secret of their extreme views on immigration and Islam. Recently, a PS parliamentary aide suggested that minorities should be forced to wear armbands for identification. The name of another party aide, Ulla Pyysalo, appeared in a hacked membership list of a neo-Nazi organization.

The PS is no stranger to political scandals and hateful rhetoric against minority groups.

More recently on 22 April 2012, a notorious Member of Parliament (MP) for the party, James Hirvisaari, stated in a blog entry that Finland is a country for Finnish people. Such a bizarre and misguided statement, in my opionion, has no place in the 21 Century.

 The blog post, titled "Suomi on suomalaisten maa", attacks humanitarian immigration and globalization, but fails to put forward any viable alternative. The author wrongly argues that immigrants travel abroad simply to enjoy social security in the receiving country. According to Hirvisaari, humanitarian immigration creates problems in the receiving country and does not solve the problem in the country of origin. He argues that Finland is for Finns and that Finland is not the Red Cross. In his view, it does not help the situation that more people are brought to Finland to "pursue their dreams."

Hirvisaari and other anti-immigration proponents in Finland seem to be unaware that Finland has a long history of emigration and that there are Finns who are immigrants elsewhere. Towards the end of the 1800s, large numbers of people emigrated from Finland to, in James Hirvisaari's own words, "toteuttamaan unelmiaan" (realize their dreams) abroad. Canada and the United States were popular destinations for Finnish emigrants. In the 1960s, the labor market in Finland forced many Finns to emigrate to Sweden. Hundreds of thousands of Finns emigrated to neighboring Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s. [Source].

It is wrong to brand refugees and all immigrants as "social security hunters", and to suggest that humanitarian migrants should not move to Finland. This twisted view of immigration is inflammatory. Like the hundreds of thousands of Finns who emigrated to Sweden and other parts of the world in the 1960s and 1970s, many people moving to Finland nowadays are hardworking individuals forced by man-made or natural circumstances to migrate. Finland cannot afford to completely close its borders in a globalized world. Even if it could, the social and economic consequences would be damaging. According to Statistics Finland, Finland's population is ageing and labour shortage is eminent. The country had the world's fastest greying population in 2007 and looming labour shortage can only be solved by attracting labour from abroad. Birth rate is low and more people are  exiting work than entering it. [Source]. In 2011, a woman in Finland would give birth to an average of 1.83 children during her reproductive period, which is below the approximately 2.1 children per woman threshold on population renewal. [Source].

According to the European Commission, population ageing will have "repercussions" on Finland's labour market, economic growth and public finances. [Source].

It is true that other strategies, such as postponing retirement, could counter the effects of Finland's ageing population. However, measures such as attracting labour from abroad should not be completely ruled out. Arguing that Finland is for Finnish people does a disservice to the nation by creating a hostile environment for foreign nationals who, if given a fair chance, could contribute enormously to the economic wellbeing of the state.

From a civil and political perspective, as a member of the international community, Finland has an obligation to welcome so-called humanitarian migrants (refugees). People reserve the right under international law to seek protection from persecution or any form of ill-treatment in their country of nationality. This right is enshrined in the landmark 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its Optional Protocol to which Finland is a party. James Hirvisaari (and Perussuomalaiset as a whole) cannot change this - at least for now. The MP's egoistic view of "Finland-as-it-ought-be" is misguided and designed to score political points. His controversial blog post is yet another cheap shot directed at Finland's immigrant and refugee population.

James Hirvisaari was convicted for inciting hatred against an ethnic group by a court in Finland in 2011. The conviction was in relation to a text posted on his blog on the Uusi Suomi website. His divisive and inflammatory rhetoric is therefore not surprising, but it should not be entertained.

*Photo: StoryMoja.


  1. Finland should never make the mistakes of mass immigration which countries like the UK have done.

    I am disgusted at how 3rd world immigration has transformed Britian without ever asking native people if they wanted this transformation to take place.

    Multi culturalism in not a system that works, it creates racial tension ,destroys communites it eventually leads to segrigation and possibly genocide.

    Findland would be crazy as a still homogenous nation to allow mass immigration like some European countries have, im sad to say as a Native of great Britian that my country is finished due to mass immigration violent crime is out of control and gang crime is now a common factor.

    Compare this to the very low crime rate and how safe my country was in 1950's before the large scale invasion of 3rd world immigrants.

    To me Britian is finished, articles like this make me angry but will not stop me from warning peoples of other European countries like Finland to not make the same mistakes we did.

    Keep 3rd world immigrationto the absoute minimum or it will destroy your country like it is doing to us, the London riots are a perfect example of the breakdown of soceity caused by multi culturalism.

    1. 3rd world man here. I can't agree more with you. Multiculturalism is an ideological fraud, promoted by very specific groups of interests for their own benefit.
      They just reap the rewards of liberalising the labor market, internationally, while remaining virtually unaffected by the collateral damages donde to the social fabric.

  2. There is strength in diversity, which I see in my neighbourhood and especially at my university. From my experience (although it is not always the case everywhere in Toronto), I actually find that in this diverse community, people are extra respectful of each other, friendlier and less cliquey. The mix of diversity is exciting and vibrant.
    Immigration is good, but there must also be services to help immigrants settle and integrate into society effectively and healthily.

    More cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity is needed; it helps us understand one other's background and fosters compassion, accommodation & respect for one another. However this does not mean accommodating harmful cultural practices such as Sharia law, underage marriage or female circumcision…there must be services that specialize in dealing with such cultural beliefs and protecting & advocating for women.

    We can live and work together peacefully where we may each look different, pray different, eat different and it is OK. There needs to be a cultural shift in attitudes so that it is viewed as such. I find it’s great to be apart of a cultural mosaic-there is so much we can learn from each other and realize that underneath; we really aren’t all that different.

    -Nursing student- Toronto, Canada

  3. I just read your blog for the first time today-very informative and interesting! I hugely respect your work in bringing equality & justice and fighting discrimination & racism. Finland is such a progressive country and I am disappointed to learn about the discriminatory attitudes targeted at you because of your ethnicity.

    Thank you Zueeko for blogging on such issues and sharing your experience. I'm definitely going to become a regular reader.


  4. People have the freedom to say no thank you just as well as yes please. Rejection happens - like when a girl says "no" - deal with it. Look how tiny Europe is, it cannot house the entire world.


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