Habiba Ali Column: Headscarves Are Not Finland’s Biggest Problem

There are almost no children of kindergarten age in Finland wearing a headscarf, but that hasn't stopped Finns Party MPs calling for a ban.

File picture of Muslim teacher and school girls wearing headscarves / Credit: iStock

Let’s talk about some serious problems.

Like the decline in the number of bees which can have a grave impact on nature and future harvests. Or world leaders with considerable military power behind them appearing less predictable than ever. The war in Syria – and other places – seems to last and develop forever. Meanwhile, the world’s oceans are rising.

Here in Finland there is also serious trouble. No, we are not talking about homelessness; a lack of social workers or nurses; marginalized youth; lines of people in the street waiting for bread; a lack of social cohesion or Finland’s academic ‘brain drain’.

We are lucky that the Finns Party has been so swift to detect the most important challenge of all and that they are so well prepared and educated, to have the solution immediately to hand: “No more headscarves in kindergartens!”

Meanwhile, back in the real world, we should be concerned with the polarization a move like that would create.

Young people will always try out their identity. They might change it 20 times per year. It is important that they may do so, so that eventually they are confident enough about their own cultures, identity and different backgrounds, for example Finn and Muslim, so that they will not be duped by extremists of any kind in the future.

Trying out how it feels to wear a headscarf and how the environment reacts to it, is only natural.

For some it will feel like the thing to do in the future, for some not. The Muslim community is rather open minded about it: those who want to wear a headscarf, will do so; those who do not just won’t.

Nobody will be less respected for it. It is a voluntary thing.

There are almost no children of kindergarten age in Finland wearing a headscarf at the moment. Politicizing this non-existent phenomenon is a provocation which will lead to more fracture in our society and alienate young Finnish Muslims.

Now that the parliamentary elections are on their way, politicians in their greed and need for attention and votes, should still maintain some minimum amount of responsibility for the country and the people in it and some decency.

For the rest of us, let’s just vote for politicians who have more to offer than the fixation on a piece of cloth.

Habiba Ali is Social Democrat councilor from Espoo. She works with Finn Church Aid and was born in Somalia. Do you have a comment about Habiba’s column? Email columnists@newsnowfinland.fi