Pictures and text: Tony Öhberg and Morgan Walker
A swift and stark rebuke manifested in response to the Finns party member Olli Immonen’s comments on Facebook last weekend, when on Tuesday evening about 15,000 people attended the Meillä on unelma (We Have a Dream) rally at Kansalaistori (Citizens’ Square).
The weather provided colourful flare for the multitude of flags on display, all uniting under a single banner: opposing racism and hatred in all its forms.
“We are not here to limit anybody’s freedom of speech or opinion. We are here to use our own freedom of speech to say that we don’t find the limiting and penning of humans acceptable, instead we see it as damaging to the whole Finland and to all Finns,” said Erkki Tuomioja, the former foreign minister, who was one of the key speakers at the event.
“Multiculturalism is a necessary and inevitable subject in an increasingly interdependent world. After decades of the second world war, the population of the Earth has more than tripled. The borders have opened and so the capital, goods, services and humans move along with them easier and in an ever increasing number.”
According to Tuomioja, closing of the borders in the name of gaining economic and cultural self-sufficiency only makes everyone poorer, economically and spiritually.
“We live in a multicultural, multireligious and multiethnic world from which no one can separate from. The understanding about this irreversible matter and adjusting to it is the key question in gaining stability, peace and for the future of the whole humankind. We want to be proud of our country and of our rainbow Finland.”
The rally was an overwhelming success, as Kansalaistori was filled to the brim with relaxed yet determined demonstrators supporting a multicultural Finland. In addition, many Finnish artists from Anna Puu to Atomirotta performed. Events continue tonight at Tavastia, where the official afterparty is held.