It was in 2020 when Helsingin Sanomat published a big story about the dangers of youth gang violence in Helsinki. The story received a lot of criticism because it spread the misinformation that youth crime is rising in Helsinki and Greater Helsinki.
It isn’t surprising that the state-owned broadcaster, Yle, has spread the issue, especially after Sweden’s parliamentary election, which was won by the far-right Sweden Democrats, which took up youth gang violence as one of their main campaign issues.
The tactic by the Sweden Democrats and the right-wing Moderates paid off.
Considering Finland will hold parliamentary elections in April, it should not surprise us that the far-right Finns Party and its National Coalition Party partner are feverishly searching for a successful campaign issue that centers on migrants and minorities.
In all three parliamentary elections last decade, the PS’s good showing was boosted by some news involving asylum seekers, mainly Muslims:
- The 2011 parliamentary election, when the PS won 39 seats from 5 previously, was helped by reporting that was more amazed at the new racist kid on the political block. Even parties like the Social Democrats started copying the PS’ anti-immigration rhetoric. PS rising political “stars” like Jussi Halla-aho, James Hirvisaari, Juho Erola, Timo Soini, and others got their places in the sun. Things were so bad back then that Islamophobes were invited to give their opinions on talk shows about immigration policy..
- In the 2015 parliamentary election, when the PS duplicated its 2011 result by gaining 38 seats, a rape happened in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila one month before the election. The crime got a lot of attention in the media, and Yle went as far as to ask people of the Somali community why “they always rape.” The police also helped by labeling the suspects “people of foreign decent,” even if they were born in Finland. Why was it essential for the public to know the latter?
- The PS got another present in the 2019 election when suspects, mainly asylum seekers, were accused of sexually harassing minors. Even if the media, and the police, who warned people to stay away from foreigners, reached hysterical levels, the PS, with the aid of parties like the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), promised to get tough on migrants. The PS almost won the parliamentary election in April.
Is youth gang violence in Finland one of the winning campaign issues for April’s parliamentary election?
Many questions arise from such reporting. Some of the main ones are if gang violence is a problem, like in Sweden and why it is an issue today. Doesn’t the media bear any responsibility for labeling all minority youths?
For the police and parties like the PS and the National Coalition Party, youth gangs offer an opportunity to label and victimize minority Finnish youths to gain attention and new voters. The police can make a case for additional funding to handle this “problem.”
Both stories published by Yle are light on facts and appear like opinionated journalism to smear all minority youths in this country.
The media can and should do a more thorough job when writing about vulnerable groups like minorities.
For further information contact:
Enrique Tessieri, chairperson, Anti-Hate Crime Organisation Finland
+358 40 8400773
* Anti-Hate Crime Organisation Finland was founded in September 2018 and registered as an NGO the following month. The aim of the NGO is to tackle and eradicate hate crime and all forms of discrimination in Finland such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, misogyny, and other forms of social exclusion through education and training, seminars, events, conferences, among others.