The Finnish ministry of the interior reported in a statement Monday that there hasn’t been a spike in violence last year perpetrated by extremist groups despite some 32,500 asylum seekers that came to the country in 2015. The ministry cites Sweden and Germany as countries where violence against migrants committed by extremist groups have apparently grown.
The report claims that violence by extremist groups like the neo-Nazi Kansalinen Vastarinta and others hasn’t risen in “a significant way” in the face of a high number of asylum seekers.
“The number of suspected crimes reported to the police due to the crimes committed by extremist groups didn’t, however, rise in 2015,” ministry of the interior head of development, Tarja Mankkinen, was quoted as saying in a statement. “Even so, right-wing extremism and ant-immigration movements have become more prominent [in Finland] and the [anti-immigration] atmosphere has worsened.”
Read full statement (in Finnish) here.
There are a couple of things that we should keep in mind concerning the report, which we should study critically.
Why does the interior ministry report only mention violence by extremist groups? Why doesn’t it study and ponder how much hate crime has risen as a result of the over 32,000 asylum seekers that came to Finland last year?
A shadow report by the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) on hate crime occurs across Europe. Of the tens of thousands of hate crimes reported to the police every year, those reported are only the tip of the iceberg.
While it’s important to keep in mind the keywords used in the report, like “violence by extremist groups,” Helsinki Deputy Police Chief Ilkka Koskimäki said in December that the total number of racist crimes had doubled last year in Helsinki, according to Jyväskylä-based daily Keskisuomalainen.
Is there a difference in the amount of violence or hate crime committed by extremist groups and hate crimes in general?
We don’t know this because it isn’t made clear in the report.
An annual report by the Police College of Finland for hate crimes in 2014 shows that there was a total of 822 suspected hate crimes, which retreated a tad from the previous year.
What role has the xenophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party and the near-silence of its partners in government, the Center Party and Nacional Coalition Party, to racist attacks by the PS played in creating that ever-worse anti-immigration atmosphere as cited by the interior ministry report?
We believe that there is a connection and it is being played down by the interior ministry and government for obvious reasons.
While it is good news that violence against migrants and minorities by extremist groups hasn’t grown significantly, we should not forget that there are still a lot of deficiencies in Finland for victims of hate crime to report what happened to the police service and that reported hate crimes are only the tip of the iceberg in this country as well.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”