So is the battle cry of those who feel “wronged” by the presence of immigrants in their country. The recent mall shooting in Espoo on New Year’s Eve has highlighted that Finland has more in common with America than anyone can actually imagine.
A 43-year old Kosovo Albanian by the name of Ibrahim Shkupolli, killed his ex-girlfriend, traveled to Espoo’s Sella mall and then shot and killed 4 people inside the Prisma superstore. His ex-girlfriend has a restraining order against him. Police are speculating that the shootings in the mall were not random (no wounded, no injured by-standers) and that each person was targeted because of the woman. Shkupolli went back to his apartment and killed himself after the shootings in the mall.
The rise of the Facebook Group
So the other day, my wife pointed out the Finnish Facebook group to me, YKSI rikos ja matkalippu kotimaahan !!! (One crime and a ticket back home). This group believes that Finland has enough trouble with it’s own population and that Foreigners need not bother to act a fool here.
To date, the Facebook Group Cause has taken the place of the online petition. The online petition was practically useless and no one cared enough to pay attention. The Facebook Group Cause would probably have just as much meaning if it were not for Google (index and it’s new real-time indexing feature), RSS, Twitter and other Web 2.0 features that allows people to consume information almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, this has also led to the rise of impatience when it comes to fact-finding.
Judgmental and bigoted go hand-in-hand?
In America, people have increasingly become more quick to judge based in little to no fact and the opinions of pundits and talking heads. Thanks to the 24-hour cable news network and the real-time dissemination of information. Now, it seems that Finns are becoming more like their American counterparts.
While groups like this “one crime” group are started with the best of intentions. There are many people who have more extreme views who will latch onto groups like this. Eventually, it will lead the population to believe that the group is anti-immigrant, racist, bigoted and 100% ignorant of the facts (Perussuomalaiset/True Finns anyone?).
If someone needs an example of what could happen to groups like this, you need not look any further than to the Tea Party groups in America. There whole cause was to protest the government’s free-for-all bailing out of Financial industry. Now the whole movement is poisoned by bigots, racists, right-wing fringe elements and ignorant idiots who wouldn’t know what was going on outside their own home if someone held a loaded gun to their head (no pun intended). Oh and don’t forget, the Fox News Entertainment Channel.
While I also opposed the Obama Administration’s handing out piles of cash [to the people who have created the current global economic condition] I cannot fathom supporting the Tea Party movement as morally bankrupt as it has become.
Meanwhile in Finland…
While this Facebook Group might be well-intended, the immigrant issue is used as an excuse to ignore the larger issue at hand. This is that Finland’s criminal justice system is a joke. “Life sentences” are slaps in the wrist in comparison to sentences handed out in the States. Even though Finland does not have a maximum length of time for a Life Sentence, usually the sentence is not any longer than 15 years. Also, local Police Departments do not have the resources or manpower to go after criminals.
A perfect example as to why this system is flawed is Juha Valjakkala, who is now knows as Nikita Fouganthine. Fouganthine was convicted on 3 counts of murder in Sweden and sentenced to life in prison. After some time, he was transferred to Finland to server the “remainder” of his sentence. During his prison term he was allowed to go on furlough from prison (one furlough was unsupervised). Which leads to problem number one: Why are prisoners – especially violent triple murderers – in Finland allowed to take a break from their prison sentences?
During his 19 some years in prison, Fouganthine attempted to escape from jail 5 times. if he was punished because of his escape attempts, you wouldn’t know it. Fouganthine was paroled (from prison in early 2008. Killing 3 people and you only serve 19 years with vacations! It’s not much of an incentive to keep people from freely murdering each other. A couple of months after his release, he was convicted of violating the terms of his parole and served most of 2008 behind bars until the Finnish Supreme Court suspended his sentence. When Fouganthine was sentenced for the killings in Sweden, he had already been convicted 11 times for other crimes.
Do you remember Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Matti Juhani Saari? Auvinen was the author of the massacre at Jokela High School. He killed 8 people and wounded 12 others in 2007. Saari was the author of the massacre at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. he killed 10 people and wounded 1 person in 2008.
As an immigrant
As I said previously, using the immigrant issue to ignore the larger issue at hand is really what is troubling Finland today – the criminal justice system. Immigrant crime is small in comparison to crimes committed by Finns. It has gone up in recent years (helped by a growing immigrant population). However, crimes caused by immigrants will never exceed the crimes cause by immigrants. It’s pretty obvious as to why – the population of Finns far exceeds immigrants!
The Facebook Group name simple spotlights immigrant crime while completely ignoring Finnish crime rates. Oh sure, the creator mentions that there are a host of problems and she also calls out Finns. However, you cannot simply ignore the name of the group. Currently, there are 8,000+ members for this group. I wonder just how many of these members knows what it’s like to be an immigrant? I’m willing to bet that it’s very few of them.
When an immigrant in Finland commits a crime that makes headlines, it affects the rest of us immigrants. I was reading some of the comments on Finlandforthought.net about this subject. A couple commentators attempted to argue that they should not be lumped into the same category as a murder. Fair enough, you have the right to feel this way. However, in reality this is not the case. A crime committed by a foreigner in Finland is a crime committed by all foreigners at the same time! It also works this way in the States. While it’s usually a person in the minority who actually subscribes to this line of thinking, just like in the States, the vocal minority has a big influence on public opinion.
When some people ask me what nationality I am, they are relieved to find out that I am an American. Should this make me feel better? Well, it doesn’t. It makes me feel worse. I have a child on the way who will be half American and half Finnish. If things keep up the way they are now, what is my child’s future going to be like? I used to think that when it comes to matters in Finland, I would let the Finns worry about Finland. I can’t afford do that anymore. Finland is my home too.
Shkupolli abused his privilege to reside here in Finland and he needed to be deported a while ago; and he would have been if the Finnish criminal justice system was actually tough on crime. However, a “one crime” fits all approach is really not the answer. I cringe at the thought of someone being deported for getting caught smoking a joint. If this is the approach to take, why not expand it? How about a mandatory 5 year sentence (with no bullshit vacations) for any crime committed by anybody?
Change doesn’t come by bandwagon, it starts at home and in the system. Let’s start focusing on the real issues.