Poll: Majority of Finns See Finland as Racist Country

An overwhelming majority of Finns say that Finland is at the very least a fairly racist country. Two thirds of the nation feel that there is a large or at least a moderate amount of racism in Finland. In spite of this, only 2% recognise or admit to being very racist, and 12% say that they recognise a moderate amount of racism. The information emerges from a poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup.
Among the minorities attracting the most negative attitudes are Somalis as well as Muslims in general, but Roma are disliked even more, with 37% saying that they hold a fairly negative or very negative attitude toward them. Minority groups getting the most positive attitudes include Sami, Swedes, British, Estonians, and Chinese. The respondents were given a list of 17 nationalities or minorities, 13 of which brought positive responses from a majority. Some results include
■ 35% agreed partly or completely with the statement “Islam is a threat to Western values and democracy”
■ 29% with “people belonging to certain races simply are not suited to live in a modern society”
■ 20% that “it needs to be recognised as a fact that some nations are more intelligent than others”
■ 11% with “people whose appearance and culture differ much from those of the Finns are unpredictable and frightening”.
Significant differences in attitudes were found between supporters of Finland’s various political parties. Supporters of the True Finns were shown to have the most negative attitudes toward foreigners and the supporters of the Green League and the Left Alliance had the least amount of racist characteristics, and they also subscribe to the least amount of racist attitudes.
In a direct connection to this research is a current analysis of the tragic shootings this summer in Norway which offers interesting reflections on the dynamics of racism. In his paper “Anti-racism after Oslo/Utoya: some challenges and considerations” Marcin Starnawski summarises the logic of discourses targeting multiculturalism covering the following threads: A racist man kills, but it is the “foreigners” together with the supporters of multiethnic and interfaith integration who are to blame. It is “they” who “provoke” with their otherness and who do not want to integrate into “our society”. The assassin, Anders Behring Breivik, – although it is acknowledged that his actions were “too extreme” – stood up to defend “us”. The intriguing analysis also points out that today’s Western societies are dealing with the reactivation of an older orientalist thinking in the context of political events and processes of the previous decade.
These and many other studies about xenophobia in general underpin the need to be attentive of all forms of racism and to apply a no-tolerance policy to all incidences that there might be.