The Finnish Parliament Signs a Charter Against Racism

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Nasima Razmyar (SDP), a member of the Finnish parliament with Afghan background. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The parties of the Finnish parliament signed a Charter of European Parties for non-racist Society on Wednesday afternoon.

Here are the commitments in a nutshell:

ft-charter-non-racism1. To defend basic human rights and democratic principles and to reject all forms of racist violence, incitement to racial hatred and harassment and any form of racial discrimination.

2. To refuse to distribute or to endorse in any way views and positions which stir up or invite prejudice, hostility or division between people of different ethnic or national origins or religious beliefs.

3. To deal responsibly and fairly with sensitive topics relating to such groups and to avoid their stigmatization.

4. To refrain from any form of political alliance or cooperation at all levels with any political party which incites or attempts to stir up racial or ethnic prejudices and racial hatred.

5. To strive for the fair representation of the above mentioned groups at all levels of the parties.

6. And further pledge to take appropriate action to ensure that all persons who work or associate themselves in any way with any of our election campaign or other activities will be aware of and at all times act in accordance with the above principles.

By the initiative of Nasima Razmyar from the Social Democratic party, the parliament also held discussions of what racism is really about.

“Finland has been a country where Molotov’s cocktails have been seen only in old war movies and the fireworks have been shot during the New Year’s Eve,” Razmyar said in her opening remarks.

“Finland is not a racist country but the truth is that there is racism in Finland. The racism has been witnessed even in the parliament. It’s shocking to notice that the hard attitudes of the adults have been transmitted to the children playing in the sandbox. We have even seen a video where an adult teaches the child to hit different people.” The disturbing video, Razmyar is referring to, can be found here.

According to Razmyar, it’s important to remember that “not a single child is grown to be a racist unless an adult makes him or her into one.” “We, the adults, have a huge responsibility. We, the decision-makers, have even a greater one. We must show an example.”

The discussions continued with, for example, Petteri Orpo (NCP), the minister of the interior, saying that people are too easily condemned as racists.

“One can be critical to the politics of immigration or one can be worried about how Finland will survive a large influx of immigrants without being a racist at all,” Orpo said.

Tarja Filatov (SDP) defined racism like this:

“Your own group is thought to be better than the other group.”

Jari Lindström, the minister of justice and employment, told an anecdote of his ride in a cab with a driver of Somali background.

After the ride, the amazed driver said, “not all members of the Finns party are racists.”

Seppo Kääriäinen from the Centre party said that racism and acts of hate partially derive from economical imbalance.

“A society which has the features of class society and great inequality can give a basis to the hate phenomena. Hate and thoughts related to it are not easily born in a society where everyone feels equal.”

Razmyar said that racism and hate have one thing in common: they are both eye-shutters. In contrast, tolerance and compassion open the eyes.

“The National Broadcaster of Germany asked a small German boy if there are any foreigners in his kindergarten,” Razmyar said.

Niki, 4, answered to the reporter:

“No, there are children.”