Choosing the key figures in the Islamophobic and Afrophobic Hall of Shame wasn’t difficult even during a year ravaged by Covid-19. The task was to choose the most obvious culprits and other ones in the media that fuel and maintain such a toxic environment.
In putting together this year’s Hall of Shame, I was quickly overwhelmed by many politicians and other players of Finland’s Islamophobic and Afrophobic network.
We are looking at Islamophobia and Afrophobia because it is the most common and vile form of racism found in Finland. This has been well documented by The European Islamophobia Report 2019 and The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), and others.
One matter that Islamophobia, Afrophobia, and other forms of racism seek is to exclude others from enjoying their equal rights. Their narrative and actions are based on reinforcing prejudices and placing all types of obstacles.
Political Parties and Politicians
The most Islamophobic and Afrophobic political grouping in Finland is the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, with the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) and Christian Democrats getting close honorable mentions.
Under its former leader, Timo Soini, the PS discovered that there is a lot of potential for growth by capitalizing on racism targeting Muslims and Somalis. It is the only modern party in Finland that has exploited this social ill to gain political power. Their moment came in 2011 when the party gained in the parliamentary election 39 seats from 5 previously.
Some of the most “notable” PS politicians who made it to the Hall of Shame list are Juho Mäenpää, Riikka Purra, Ano Turtiainen (former parliamentary member) Veikko Villen. The two PS members that are the dark forces or the enablers behind Finland’s toxic racist environment are Jussi Halla-aho and Matias Turkkila.
- Mäenpää labeled in 2019 asylum seekers as an invasive species that, I suspect, must be dealt with like Jews were in Nazi Germany;
- Purra is the epitome of the far-right message by believing that white Finns are becoming a minority in their country (sic!);
- Turtiainan, who got expelled from the PS parliamentary group for trying out his stand-up dark humor when he mocked George Floyd’s death, is like a broken record when it comes to racist statements;
- Villen is like Turtiainen and other PS politicians who are fixated with their hatred of Muslims and asylum seekers.
Despite this brief list above, all the PS MPs would have no problem in making it to the Hall of Shame.
In the Facebook post below, it appears that Turtiainen (surprise, surprise) is unrepentant about his mocking of George Floyd’s death, in which he posted a picture of the dying man on the street with his face colored in pink and with the words, “Pink Floyd.”
It will be interesting to see if they allow Turtiainen to rejoin the PS parliamentary group after his Q-anon conspiratorial, Fixit, and racist soundbites.
Even if the tiny Christian Democrats have under its present and past leaders Sara Essayah and Päivi Räsänen have taken the high Islamophobia road, the semi-surprise is the National Coalition Party.
Under the leadership of Petteri Orpo, the party has flirted with the PS and sent mixed signals if it wants to form a government with a party like the PS that openly supports Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, wants Finland to exit the EU and is a member of the far-right EU parliamentary bloc, Independence and Democracy (ID).
The most notorious Islamophobes of the National Coalition Party are MP Wille Rydman, Helsinki city counselor Atte Kaleva, and Seida Sohrabi. The list is not all-conclusive. Other National Coalition Party dishonorable mentions include Petteri Orpo, Kai Mykkänen, Jukka Kopra, and Heikki Vestman.
As mentioned previously, many minor players would make it to the Hall of Shame. Naming them all would turn this story into a book.
Apart from the PS and National Coalition Party, especially toxic Islamophobic groups include Kansallismielisten liittouma, Kohti vapautta! (formerly outlawed neo-Nazi Pohjoismainen vastarintaliike [PVL]), Soldiers of Odin, Finnish Defence League, Suomen Sisu, and Suomi Ensi (Finland First).
While Finland has good reporters, one wonders why their reporting of our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse communities is too often one-sided and biased.
The story that revealed this to a tee this year was Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest circulating daily. Helsingin Sanomat alleged that certain parts of Helsinki were dangerous places due to 100-150 youths of so-called migrant backgrounds.
While the story on brown Finns ended up labeling all youths of migrant origin as dangerous or potential criminals, another one, published this month, was about the suspected cold-blooded murder committed by 16-year-old white Finns.
Contrary to the first story, the latest story did not label all white Finnish youths as potential murderers. On the contrary, a more sensible debate emerged about finding the sources of and solutions for youth crime.
The reporting of sexual assault crimes in 2019 during an election year is another shameful example of how low the media, the police, and politicians can stoop to advance their political aims. Migrant Tales documented 77 stories published between November 27 and February 13. On January 14, Yle published in one day 13 stories about the topic!
As the list of representatives that would make the Hall of Shame, a similar list of news stories and alternative media that peddle racism would be equally long.
Some of these would include MV-lehti, Oikea Media, Suomen Uutiset, PT-media and others. All of these publications are mouthpieces of hatred.
Thank you Reija Härkönen and others for offering me their important advice on the drafting of the Hall of Shame list.