Category Archives: Finland

Sweden, A Modern Melting Pot?

In my youth back in the 1930s and 1940s, if someone said the word, Sweden, thoughts of tall blond haired men and women entered my mind. That was true, to some extent that is, about fifty years ago, but the modern nation of Sweden increasingly has become a mixture of people from every part of the world. Over the past fifty years, the number of foreigners residing in Sweden has gone from 4% of the population to nearly 20% and that figure will continue to rise in the coming years. However, the largest non-Swedish group is compose of people from neighboring Finland, but there are also a contingent from Iraq of over 140,000. The Swedish experience is simply a manifestation of modern migrations which allow people from non-European lands to wind up in northern climes.

One can only wonder if the 140,000 Iraqis really wanted to live in Sweden or has the chaos of Iraq led Iraqi migrant to go to those nations having open doors for refugees from violence?

A Shooting In Helsinki–Anyone At Fault?

The shooter was a refugee from Kosovo who came to Finland in search of peace and security. But, he was a stranger in a strange land which means being compelled to learn a new language, adjust to new cultural values and ways of doing things, and suffering from being marginalized in a new culture. Ibrahim Shkupolli, killed several people or reasons that will be debated and discussed for years. He shot them in a shopping center, a group of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and had the misfortune to encounter the wrong person. The Kosovo refugee had several previous convictions for firearms possession, and paid the fines and kept the guns. After all, if you ask a member of the American NRA they are clear that guns don’t kill people, just people kill people which is the rationale for never taking weapons away from any disturbed individual.

Naturally, the fact a refugee killed people has already raised issues among many that a solution to avoid shootings is to deport those from foreign lands. Of course, it was but a few years ago that a Finnish born and raised young man went on a shooting spree at a school. So, how does one deal with shootings. One solution is forbidding anyone other than authorities to possess a weapon at home. If they want to shoot, why not go to government operated shooting places? There is no doubt my words are those of a man who is against the right to bear arms. Actually, no. I think anyone should have the right to bear arms, just join the military as I did many years ago.

Finland Leads In Anti-Somalia Violence!

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that Somalia immigrants in Finland encounter more prejudice and violence than any other minority in a European nation. There were about 74 instances of violence or threats for every 100 Somalis who were interviewed compared to 44 in Italy for those of North African backgrounds. Figures in Denmark were 40 and in the Czech Republic 42 where there are many of Roma background. Ironically, the report indicates that not all Somalis fall victim to violence or threats, but it appears a particular group is more prone to encounter such behavior from native born Finns.

Is the fact there are few Somalis in Finland a factor in that it makes those who are around stand out for those who are bigoted and seeking someone to hate? Perhaps, it is time for the Finnish government to do an intensive study of what are the causes of this violence.

Miarets For Peace?

Tommi Niemainen, writing in the Finnish newspaper, Sanomat, has identified an interesting idea that might result in peace between Palestinians and Israelis– minarets for peace. He argues that Helsinki which has been identified as the Design Capital of 2012 could “definitely do with a couple of striking minarets” to light up the city at night with dazzling lights. There is something to his idea that makes sense. What if Jerusalem became the site of dozens of minarets which were outfitted with varying color lights at night, they would add a glow to the city that would be seen for miles around.

Think about it, minarets for peace. How could any suicide bomber blast away in a city containing dozens of minarets? How could any Muslim accuse Israelis of being prejudiced if Jerusalem was adorned with minarets attached to mosques? After all, if Jerusalem became the minaret capital of the world, Muslims would have to flock to it, business would boom, Palestinians and Jews would make money and there would no longer be any basis for conflict.

Of course, we could always place minarets in West Bank settlements and for every house built for Jewish settlers, a minaret would have to be built which would be attached to the Jewish house. I think that would end West Bank settlement construction!

I always thought the Swiss were good at making money. Boy, did you people blow it when voting to ban minarets.

Limits On Immigrants In Schools?

The Minister of Education in Finland has called for establishing quotas on the number of immigrant pupils who can be found in a single school. He argues for a 20% limit on immigrants in one school. Currently, about 15 % of students in Helsinki schools have children with immigrant backgrounds. Rauno Jarnila, who is head of the Education Department of the city of Helsinki, laughs at the proposal and believes it ignores reality of how immigrants interact with schools and society. About 20 of the 108 Finnish language comprehensive schools in Helsinki have about 25% of their student body who are of immigrant origin. Jarnila agrees it would be wonderful if immigrants were evenly distributed across the school population, but that stance flies in the face of how immigrants congregate.

It is normal for immigrants to seek housing in areas where there are people of their own background or schools which have reputations of being concerned to provide excellent education for immigrant children. This process is well known in any society which has traditionally had ongoing arrival of immigrants. It is difficult for immigrants to live in areas where there are few people of their own background. Reality is there will be an imbalance. The issue is not the number but the quality of education provided.

Wear A Niqab In Helsinki And Get Stares!

As the world changes its demographics, it becomes increasingly more common for Muslim women to be found in climes that historically were not their destination. A reporter for the Finnish newspaper, Sanomat, decided to experiment by wandering around Helsinki dressed in a niqab, the conservative face covering worn by some Muslim women. She noted how some men stared intently at her and the gaze of one “nearly burned a hole in the chiffon.” Ironically, due to the niqab she stumbled into a man who turned out to be an Arab and was then greeted with kind words and great respect. While on the metro, a drunk shouted, “Hey, that is one hell of a sight” to his fellow drunkards.

A Somali woman told her it was common for Muslim women in Finland to wear brightly covered scarves and urged that she not wear black. A young man almost spilled his drink at the sight of a woman wearing a niqab. She went to a park and sat on a bench. A family with two boys approached and one of the little boys began to shout in terror at the sight of a black covered face.

The good news is that cosmetologist and hair stylists made it a point not to bother her while she wandered the streets of Helsinki in search of reactions to the niqab.

If You Are Roma, Don’t Sleep Near Us!

The Romas in Finland are there due to an inability in their native lands elsewhere in Europe to find opportunities for work and a decent life for their families. An illegal Roma camp was set up by a group of beggars in Helsinki, but it was broken up and the people dispersed on order of the City of Helsinki. Another camp nearby was also dismantled by authorities. The Romas who come mainly from Romania, picked up their meager belongings as city workers tore down their plywood structures. Of course, city authorities had absolutely no idea where the Romas could go for shelter, but, apparently, that was not their main concern. After all, allowing people to beg on the streets of Helsinki sends a wrong message to tourists.

A Roma woman, Virginia Moldova, said “I;ll just put a mattress down on the ground and sleep there. Maybe we’ll be able to find some kind hearted soul who will help us.” Mayor Jussi Pajunen said Romas were EU citizens and were to be treated like any other tourist, and while in Finland Romas must obey the nation’s laws.

Fella, they are not tourists. They are people seeking work, education for their children, and a place to lay their head on. How about finding job opportunities so they can earn money and secure lodging?

Finnish People Support Afghanistan Mission

A poll on Finnish attitudes toward their involvement in the war in Afghanistan revealed that half the population supports the effort despite the reality Finnish troops are quartered in dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Around a third of those polled would like to pull troops out while 16% have no opinion. A surprising aspect of the poll is that those over 50 years of age, about half want troops back home while younger Finns are more supportive of the operation. Of the 29-34 year-olds, no less than 59% want troops to remain fighting in Afghanistan. Ironically, the bulk of respondents do not believe objectives of the NATO operation will be achieved in Afghanistan.

These results stand in sharp contrast to young people of the sixties who began the anti-war movement to end fighting in Vietnam. Perhaps, the lack of a draft means one can take a macho image of fighting since someone else other than you will do the fighting. Where have all the idealist young people gone? Were have all the flowers gone– gone to graveyards everyone!!

Wow! Finnish Advance -Toilets For Women!

Finland is a modern progressive state, but for some reason, it has never gotten around to providing children and women who are in jail the right to have a toilet in the cell. Minister of Justice, Tuija Brax, promised before the end of the year any prison which still lacks toilet facilities for women will have the problem solved. In many jails where children are in cells with their mothers, the group has to defecate in buckets! For some reason there was never enough money for such high expense items. According to Tuomo Karjenmaki, director of the Hameenlinna Prison, “most of the prisons for men have been renovated and all cells have been equipped with toilets, but for some reason, female inmates have been forgotten.”

It is difficult to imagine in the 21st century that women who are in jail with children still are placed in “cells.” Surely, there is enough money to provide apartment style living conditions for female prisoners with children.

Roma Helpers Can Be Unhelpful!

The Finnish Ministry of the Interior has helped create the job of “Roma liaisons” whose task is ostensibly to assist Roma immigrants in the nation to secure housing and jobs. However, the Finnish Minority Ombudsman, Johanna Suurpaa, believes there is evidence the liaisons quite frequently interfere with efforts by Romas to live in certain communities. For example, in the Roma culture, two people whose families are at odds, might be prevented from obtaining housing in an area in which his “enemies” currently live. A Roma who is moving to another location must consult with a liaison.

Undoubtedly, Roma immigrants to Finland are in a strange country and do need assistance. The issue, most probably, is how to provide assistance that empowers people to make their own decisions.