Somali-Finn Fadumo Dayib is looking to make history by becoming Somalia’s first female president. Dayib, who holds masters’ degrees in health care, public health and public administration, is currently a PhD researcher at University of Helsinki. She recently spoke with Yle News about the heated debate arising from anti-multicultural statements by Finns Party MP Olli Immonen, what she calls Finland’s failed integration policies and its flawed discourse about migrants.The recent rumblings over comments by Finns Party MP Olli Immonen calling for a fight against multiculturalism weren’t lost on researcher Fadumo Dayib, a candidate in Somalia’s presidential election. Dayib told Yle News that xenophobic rhetoric is part and parcel of the nationalistic party’s stock in trade.
“If migrants were to leave, Immonen and the True Finns would have no traction in Finnish politics. They came into office on xenophobic rhetoric. This is their business. It puts bread on their table. Their affiliation with hate forums, Nazi groups and bigotry is common knowledge and highly alarming,” she said.
The mother of four added that the recent riot in Jyväskylä that led to a violent assault was the direct result of Immonen’s incitement. She cautioned that additional incidents could occur if the government doesn’t take a strong stand against similar provocative discourse.
“I believe that the fact Immonen is an MP and that he’s making such irresponsible statements have legitimately opened the doors for hate crimes. I believe that if the government does not take a strong stance on this, that the peaceful Finland we know will be but a distant memory,” she remarked.
Dayib called on the party leadership to step up and rid itself of unruly elements like Immonen.
More Finns than migrants benefit from integration programmes
The researcher argues that a sense of identity is crucial for immigrants growing up in Finland. As such, she says the society needs to focus on integration rather than assimilation. However she said that the process of integration is being hindered by inefficient government policies and programmes overwhelmingly designed and run by Finns.
“Nowadays integration has become a million-euro business. People have their own projects without measurable impact and the majority of those who benefit are Finns, not migrants.”
The former UN worker called for greater accountability from ongoing integration programmes to ensure that government spending is warranted.
“We are rehashing the same integration policies year in, year out, yet we see they haven’t yielded results. Why should government spend this money on something that’s not productive? We need to go back to the drawing board instead of blaming migrants for these failed policies.”
Dayib declared that the best way to help migrants integrate is to give them jobs and teach them the language. However she noted that the current system doesn’t give them the opportunity to be productive citizens.
“There’s a condescending way of looking at people to say they’re not capable of being productive citizens. The system allows one to be on welfare for 20 years. No one wants to be on welfare. People want to be appreciated, respected, self-sufficient, productive,” she stated.
“It is a myth that people want to live off the system. This is a certain rhetoric used by some politicians, but no one wants to be on welfare. Integration policies have failed. We need to re-evaluate the system,” the recent Harvard graduate added.
Finland should honour international agreements
Dayib also referenced the recent political debate over accepting transfer refugees from other European states in the wake of a record number of refugee crossings over the Mediterranean this year. She called on the Finnish government to honour its commitments to international agreements and to develop a comprehensive policy for refugees and integration.
“This thing of looking at human beings as numbers is really shocking. More than a million Finns have gone abroad as economic refugees; no one keeps track of that. They’re going abroad because they can’t find jobs. Ultimately no one wants to leave their country, they’re forced to. Finland should do what they signed up to,” she said.
Dayib charged that the failure of Finnish integration policies are reflected in the Tapanila case, in which four young men with migrant backgrounds were given suspended prison sentences for rape.
“If you don’t give people the tools you have no right to demand anything from them. The fact that you gave me the opportunity to be in Finland isn’t the end, it should be the beginning. That’s where the work starts,” she observed.
Dayib noted though, that following the incident she had been targeted for what some saw as a lenient stance on the rape case. However she stressed that she did not condone the act.
“What I find shocking is for a Finnish judge to say that what happened was a mild form of rape. How can you use the words mild and rape in the same sentence?”
The intrepid activist said little had materialised despite political rhetoric about integration spouted over the past 25 years. She called for comprehensive integration programmes that would teach migrants not only the Finnish language, but how Finnish society functions, including its values and principles. This she said, would take upwards of one year.
She also called for politicians and groups that use xenophobic rhetoric to move away from a culture of ascribing blame toward finding solutions to the problems the country now faces.