Politician admits he made up details of racist incident story

Husu Hussein says that while he has been the subject of frequent racist abuse in his job as a taxi driver, the incident he tweeted about which was widely reported in the media, did not happen.

File picture of Abdirahim 'Husu' Hussein, spring 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Helsinki City Councilor Abdirahim ‘Husu’ Hussein (SDP) has admitted that he invented details of a racist incident which he alleged happened earlier this month.

At the time, Hussein said he had been subject to racist abuse from a passenger in the taxi he drives and that he stopped the taxi and told the passenger to get out.

However, in a story from Helsingin Sanomat, the owner of the taxi company was unable to confirm details of Hussein’s story including the route he was driving and the time of the alleged incident.

“In response to inquiries regarding Husu’s allegations, we confirm, based on our investigation that there has been no customer removed or abandoned [from a taxi]” the company Taksi Helsinki writes on Twitter.

“Discussions with Husu have been held, and the matter has been resolved in this respect […] We do not approve of improper conduct, and Husu’s activities have been referred to our Quality Committee for further consideration” the company says.

File picture of Husu Hussein / Credit: Candidate

New response from Hussein 

Husu Hussein admits to Helsingin Sanomat that his story was not entirely true, and apologised.

He tells the newspaper there was a racist customer in his taxi a few nights prior to the incident he invented, and that while he threatened to stop the car and make the passenger get, he didn’t actually do it.

Hussein says he wanted to spark a discussion about racism, and writing on Facebook on Monday the politician says that in the last few weeks there has been “especially racist and ugly language for drivers” and that it happened to him several times.

Somali-born Hussein says that particular weekend there were three racist incidents in his cab: one customer got out the taxi himself when he didn’t have money to pay for the journey, and two other customers were driven home.

“The purpose of my [original] tweet was to raise a discussion about the continuing racist harassment experienced by taxi drivers of foreign origin” he writes.

File picture showing detail on exterior of Helsinki City Hall / Credit: News Now Finland

Reaction from politicians 

Other politicians in the capital region have been critical of Hussein’s story, which received widespread media coverage earlier this month [Editor’s note: News Now Finland did not cover the most recent allegations which Hussein made].

“I am extremely disappointed of our member, Husu’s, activities” writes fellow Social Democrat Councilor and MP Eveliina Heinäluoma, adding that the SDP group will discuss the incident at their next meeting.

“Husu’s judgment has failed completely. A truthful story would have highlighted the problem as well, because discrimination and racism are shockingly real in Finnish society and there are also studies on it” writes Suldaan Said Ahmed, a Left Alliance councilor in Helsinki, and himself an immigrant from Somalia.