Throughout the years, far-right parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* have in recent years mainly used code words to refer to Muslims. Some of the most common ones are sexual offenders, overrepresented in crime statistics, asylum seekers, and, now the latest, vieraskieli, or “people who don’t speak Finnish as their mother tongue.”
One article published last week by Helsingin Sanomat highlighted the issue.
Russian and Estonian speakers were the most prominent vieraskieli groups in the story about Espoo schools. Arabic speakers were the third-biggest mother language group.
When far-right politicians like Riikka Purra use the term vieraskieli, it means in code Muslim and people of color.
Many understand that the Finnish media is part of the country’s racism problem. Any sensible person can see that the media rarely asks racialized people their opinions, never mind experts’ views on issues like racism and discrimination.
One overbearing message of parties like the PS and the near-silence and flirting of parties like the National Coalition Party is that people who are granted asylum are portrayed as a threat to Finnish values and culture.
Racism is deeply ingrained in Finnish culture. Excluding other voices means that little to nothing will change. Institutional racism must be challenged head-on.
I believe that if Finland’s newsrooms weren’t so white, they would write about racialized people differently.
It would be a big blow to the racist narrative of parties like the PS, which always label racialized groups with suspicion.