Political hate speech targets immigrant candidates

Five candidates from Social Democrats, Greens and Left Alliance shared some of the abusive messages they've received during the election campaign.

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Politicians in Finland are all too frequent targets of abusive emails and social media messages. But election candidates with immigrant backgrounds are often the particular targets of race hate abuse.

We talked with five candidates from three parties, and asked them to share some of the messages they’ve received.

Habiba Ali (SDP), Husu Hussein (SDP), Suldaan Said Ahmed (Left), Ozan Yanar (Green) and Fatim Diarra (Green) are all running for parliament in the 14th April elections. All but Yanar are hoping to get elected for the first time – he became a freshman MP in 2015’s general election.

The messages are mostly sent on social media – Facebook and Twitter are common channels – although they can also arrive by email. And they can come at any time, when the candidates are on the campaign trail, working at their day jobs, or with their families.

Some of the recipients routinely sends the most threatening messages to Finland’s Security Police Supo. Others save screenshots to look at later or show to officials in their party.

And they all had mixed emotions: first translating the text from Finnish to English, and then through the process of recording the actual words and speaking them out loud.

Ozan Yanar had to laugh at how absurd it sounds to say the messages. Fatim Diarra knew without hesitation what she would say, expletives and all. Husu Hussein had so many he didn’t which to choose. Suldaan Said Ahmed – recently the target of an assault – was frustrated with the ferocity of the words in English. Habiba Ali said it felt like some form of therapy.

Watch their video above, which is rated safe for work, or you can watch the explicit, uncensored version at this link.