Thanks to the mixed statements by the police, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government and President Sauli Niinistö concerning asylum seekers, we have today as well vigilante groups like the Soldiers of Odin and neo-Nazi Kansalinen Vastarinta patrolling our streets. Many of the members of these vigilante groups have criminal and far-right backgrounds.
Compared with four or six years ago, the level of xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment has reached fever pitch. There is so much news against asylum seekers and our ever-growing culturally diverse community that it’s on some weeks difficult to keep up with what is being said.
Finland saw a record number of asylum seekers come to the country last year. These 32,500 people that traveled far from countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia, have found temporary housing in asylum reception centers. Who watches over, never mind defends, their rights?
Mohammed Saleh Muhsin, 26, is one of the many thousands of young Iraqi asylum seekers that came to Finland in the fall. Like many of his countrymen, he too speaks of the violence and strife strangling Iraq. He spoke to Migrant Tales about his treatment at two of Luona’s reception centers. “I arrived on September 23…
Migrant Tales published on Friday a story where it asked about the circumstances of the death of an asylum seeker, Jayyed Abbas Jaffari (1995-2016), in early January that was staying at Luona’s reception center in Espoo. Was there negligence or not by the private company that runs reception centers in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa?
Anti-immigration populists and ultranationalist use the code term “immigration policy” to mean that they don’t want non-EU nationals especially Muslims from the Middle East and Africa to move to their country. Finland is no exception and they point to Canada as an example of successful immigration policy that we could emulate.
Europe is in a moral quandary these days. It’s ironic that the more it attempts to implement security through the building of higher and tougher outside boundaries and treat people who flee war, strife and poverty with disdain, the more it feeds our sense of insecurity.
Much of the news commentary on Europe seems to assume that the Schengen open borders arrangement will vanish in the next few months. That would be a disaster. Saving it will require a reversal of the current refusal of solidarity with countries at the frontline of the refugee flows.
Ever wonder why the media, the government never mind private companies running asylum reception centers in Finland are so quiet about the people they are giving shelter, food, and temporary protection? The mere fact that we know so little already raises a lot of questions like the Suomen Kuvalehti story about the death of an asylum seeker in early January.
A good example of how some Finns label Others and how the media fuels the “us” and “them” mentality is when a teenage asylum seeker on Thursday was caught watching naked women taking showers at a local swimming hall in the Finnish town of Haukipudas, located 640km north of Helsinki.