To the outside observer, Finlands governmental policies concerning immigration could be defined as being a riddle wrapped in an enigma. While the social democrats from other member EU states are clearly behind the multicultural enterprise, immigration to Finland under the SDP over the last decade has remained remarkably low. And with the victory of the conservative National Coalition and the Central Party in elections earlier this year, it shows no sign of increasing. To add further to the Finnish puzzle, just last week, Lauri Ihalainen, chairman for Finlands largest labour union SAK, said that Immigration is not the answer to labour shortages, that though foreign labour could be a stop-gap measure it would not solve the basic problem. Though he thought work was the best way to integrate immigrants into society but the process was not without problems. He reminded that while the average unemployment rate in Finland stood at 7%, the figure for immigrants stood at 25%. Where Turkey is concerned, all of Finlands MEPs believe that there should be no tinkering in the EUs present criteria for enlargement. But then the Finnish riddle continues, with the most positive position on Turkish EU membership was taken by the Greens, conservatives, centrists, as well as social democrats. Earlier this year Dr.Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum, invited me to Copenhagen to witness his receiving an award by THE DANISH FREE PRESS SOCIETY, as well as delivering an historic speech to those present in that overflowing hall. The reason I mention this, is due to the fact that after the event, I was frequently asked the following question: How is it possible that Finland has resisted the open ended Muslim immigration policies that are so prevalent in both Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe? If there is anything worth remembering from this ten minute speech, it is this: CULTURAL IDENTITY. The Finns havent lost it, at least not yet. Presently, Finnish society has remained resistant to the pressures of a political correctness that views national pride and cultural heritage negatively. The Finns strong sense of cultural identity crosses over many party lines, and while many the Left would love to thrust Finland headlong into the same mess of multiculturalism that the rest of Scandinavia is experiencing, they remain for the moment, a marginalized sect. One of the main reasons for a strong sense of Finnish cultural identity is its language, which, outside of Finland and Estonia, is both unique and unknown. Due to fierce opposition to the Russification of Finnish society has resulted in Finns being very prideful of their linguistic and cultural heritage. Another reason is the recent wars Finland fought against the former Soviet Union. when its sovereignty came dangerously close to being extinguished, and that reality has not been lost on Finlands present day society. It can be seen in the way Finland celebrates its day of independence, which is pretty much a day of remembrance for having survived WWII, battered but not beaten. Now lets move forward to the present day. While the Finnish language may act to help sustain Finlands culture and identity, its also a sword that cuts both ways. Though many Finns are fluent in English, their native language helps to keep much of its society captive to the Finnish news media, which is for the most part, very Left, very pro-Arab/pro-Palestinian, and worships at the alter of both the UN and Brussels. During the Cold war, Finlands state TV news network YLE, was staffed with Marxists and Leninists, and was used by the KGB as a testing ground for propaganda it wanted to disseminate in the West. That same news organization now serves as a willing platform for similar propagandizing, now done by Brussels. This of course makes it all too easy for EU directives especially where Islam and immigration are concerned to be disseminated without too much resistance in the Finnish media. Much of Finlands past is reflected in its recent immigration policies, for an example, laws which at one time, allowed for dual citizenship, were changed after 1989.The fear at the time, was that Finland would be flooded with Russian immigrants. Since joining the EU, those laws have been either relaxed or rescinded, with dual citizenship now being permitted once again. Ever since Finland joined the EU, which narrowly passed in a public referendum, (49/51%), there has been a tremendous change in Finlands view of itself and its role within Europe. Before joining, Finnish neutrality, accompanied by strong ties with the UN, were seen as the means by which Finnish security could be both obtained and maintained. Since joining the EU, different parties now look to the EU to safeguard Finnish security. When looking at the statistics for EU member states that actually fulfil EU directives, Finland ranks always near or at the top. Perhaps this phenomenon can be traced to its past as a vassal of Sweden, then as a duchy of Tsarist Russia. But whatever the reason, Finland is an eager member within the EU, willing and ready to serve. What I am driving at here, is that though Finland lacks the seemingly open ended immigration policies that other EU members states currently employ, there are dangerous signals, that perhaps when given the chance, Finland will try to emulate other countries immigration policies as well. A tough climate and even tougher language might be one of the factors as to why the number of Muslim immigrants (presently 30 000) in Finland has been relatively few, with most residing in the nations capital of Helsinki. According to Finlands best known convert to Islam, Abdullah (Risto) Tammi, a former Nazi, Communist and now leader of Finlands first ever Finnish Islamic Party, there are over 55 000 Muslims residing in Finland. Its an entirely bogus claim, but when have we not known Islamists to lie or fudge the truth? In spite of the relatively small number of Muslims living in Finland, the Finnish political and media reaction to the Jyllands-Postens Mohamed cartoon incident in 2005, was nothing short of atrocious. Not a single major news outlet stood up for the Jyllands-Posten other than a small cultural magazine, Kaltio, which published an alternative cartoon strip that depicted the timidity of the Finnish media in the face of intolerant Islam. The editor of that paper, was fired for refusing to remove the cartoon strip, apologies issued and the offending cartoonist, Ville Ranta, marginalized. Across the political spectrum, the Finnish backbone that beat back the Soviet bear was noticeably absent, and appeasement was in the air. Politicians from across the political spectrum issued calls for restraint, with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen going way overboard with an apology for a Finnish nationalist groups online publishing of the dreaded cartoons of Mohamed. In an editorial, the editor-in-chief of the Helsingin Sanomat, Janne Virkkunen characterized the Jyllands-Postens cartoons of Mohamed as being protected, but its publication of them as being bad journalism. In all honesty, the overall reaction by the Finnish media, resembled the way my Welsh Springer spaniel greets me at my front door, a complete roll over, with all four of its legs up in the air. In closing, it is my opinion that Finland today, resembles Europe from the late 1950s, in an age where cultural identities were stronger then they are today, and national heritage viewed as a commodity not worth trading away. How Finland fares in the next few decades might be an indicator as to just how far the European enterprise has actually gone. So let us hope that Europe will eventually find that same Finnish backbone that defeated the Soviets, and help secure Europes cultural identity. Thank you.
October 18, 2007