On June 7 in the western Finnish town of Teuva a Muslim was attacked by white Finns. If we look at the bias indicators, three factors stand out: victim perception, the severety of the violence (the victim was taken to a hospital for treatement), and vandalizing and writing graffiti on his car.
While hate speech is not a hate crime, in this case, it is a strong case for bias motivation. The suspects threatened to kill him, and while assaulted, an older man asked him to “ask Allah for help.”
A hate crime is a criminal offense that has a bias motivation targeting a particular group that could be based on real or perceived gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability.
Even if crimes are serious offenses, a hate crime can have a lasting impact on the victim and his community.
We are not the only ones who are concerned about eh racist aspect of the crime, The mayor of Teuva Veli Nummela, the town’s newspaper Tejuka were just as adamant about the motivation of the crime.
Nummela wrote in a blog: “We will evaluate these practices [anti-racism] at the beginning of the new school year. We want to do our best in the fight against racism and violence and respect for human rights.”
Tejukka‘s June 17 editorial, “Measuring civility,” openly condemns what happened to the Muslim, adding that “racism should not be accepted in any shape or form.”
The town newspaper also published several stories about the incident interviewing the victim, the police, and a foreigner living in Teuva.
The police are not ruling out a hate crime but appear not to be in any rush to do so.
According to the Criminal Code of Finland (766/2015), Section 5, there are grounds for increasing the punishment if the crime “was based on race, skin color, birth status, national of ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability of another corresponding grounds.”
I spoke with the Muslim today, and he is recovering from what happened but is still clearly shaken by what happened.
“I will move [from Kristiinankaupunki] to Helsinki at the end of this month,” he said. “I cannot live here because I am afraid to go outside.”
The bias indicators of this crime speak for themselves and suggest that what happened was no ordinary crime but also a hate crime.
For further information contact:
Enrique Tessieri, chairperson, Anti-Hate Crime Organisation Finland
+358 40 8400773
* Anti-Hate Crime Organisation Finland was founded in September 2018 and registered as an NGO the following month. The aim of the NGO is to tackle and eradicate hate crime and all forms of discrimination in Finland such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Afrophobia, misogyny, and other forms of social exclusion through education and training, seminars, events, conferences, among others.