Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Community, paging community!"

Lately there has been a problem in Rovaniemi. A group of young Kurdish asylum seekers has been harassing women. More specifically, a 22-year old Iranian-born woman, her sister, who was harassed in front of her small child, some other foreign-born women and some Finnish women. The harassment mostly targeted foreign-born women, has lasted for four months, and consisted of shouting obscenities, following women, spitting on them, and at least one death threat. The harassers were somewhat fewer than a dozen young Kurdish men. The asylum seeker center is not sure who they are.

Excuse me? The Rovaniemi asylum seeker center has 100 places. Is it really hard to find who those people are? How many of the residents exactly are young Kurdish men?

Now Astrid Thors, Finland's immigration minister, is hoping that Finland's Kurdish community will take responsibility for the actions of the young men.

She is aware that there is no Kurdish community in Rovaniemi.

WTF? More specifically, what the fuck does she expect them to do? It would be of course nice if Kurds in general disapproved of the aforementioned behavior, and some surely do, but what does she expect them to do about it, especially if they live elsewhere and don't know the guys in question?

She also says that those are isolated incidents. Let's see. There are 86 Kurdish-speaking people resident in Lapland (not including the asylum applicants). I am not sure what exactly is meant by "young Kurdish men", but 19 of them are men aged 15-29. If there are, say, 10 harassers, and if they are the only young Kurdish men in the asylum seeker center, they constitute about a third of Lapland's young Kurdish men. To me this sure looks like a significant part of the community is in fact trying to teach values to immigrant women, and rather actively - the are just not the values that I, or Astrid Thors, would like to be taught.

On a more general note, every time the official authorities say they are "working with the community" it gives me cold shivers. Yeah, I understand that sometimes the police, for example, needs to know something about some community, and then they ask somebody they know. But every time there is talk about negotiation with a community, or a community taking responsibility, or a community demanding this or that, some kind of "community leaders" tend to arise.

Who are my community leaders? I have no idea, but I know that I have not elected them, have not empowered them to speak for me, and have no means of making them answer to me. If they tell me that they have agreed on something on my behalf, I will answer with a one-finger salute.

Yes, if the authorities wish that Russians/Jews/Americans stop doing some illegal thing (for example, mooning the immigration minister), and I know some Russians/Jews/Americans who are doing it, I'll tell them it's not nice. On the other hand, I would say the same thing to the Finns I know, and I certainly wouldn't approach strangers of any ethnicity or national origin to tell them not to do it.

We have police here in Finland, and other Powers That Be, including the employees of the asylum seeker center. They should be capable of a) explaining to people what is allowed and what is not and b) punishing them if the need arises. Without calling on an ethnic community, especially one that is not even present in the city in question.

If I am doing something the state doesn't like, I want to hear it from the state itself, in whatever form is appropriate.

And if the state really needs the community to explain to its members how to behave, it means that the state is already in pretty serious trouble.

No comments: