I have noted this time and again, it’s great to see someone of national recognition come to the same conclusion, and in a noted magazine…
The only area where he gets it wrong is when he conflates Muslims’ rejection of criticism of Islam, with that of Israeli rejection of actual antisemitism and anti-Zionist rhetoric. He needs to have a more nuanced view of the level of hate against the Jewish state that contains the seeds of classic Jew-hatred sown throughout the centuries against Jewish communities in majority Christian and Muslim nations.
Kudos to the Suomen Kuvalehti for publishing this researcher’s findings, hopefully, the police find it useful and rethink their methods in filing these kinds of reports.
Wrong image of hate crime
Muslims in Finland are mistreated and insulted, but these crimes are often committed by Muslim extremists.
TEXT BY HANNU PESONEN
Statistics on religious hate crime reports in Finland show that Muslims are the main targets of crimes.
“However, the fact is that the perpetrators are mainly Muslims,” says researcher Esko Kähkönen.
Dr Kähkönen of Theology has investigated the hate crime reports published in 2015 and 2016 by the police about one-way violence and insults. The results are documented in his study Facing Islamic Extremist Thinking, published by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences in January 2020. The starting point of the study is to illustrate how much debate has been held on Islamic extremism in Finland in recent years and how to recognize the phenomenon.
KÄHKÖNEN’S conclusion about the interpretation of hate speech allegations is harsh. Reality has turned its head in police information and media.
Over 80% of religious assaults and religious verbal abuse between members of different faiths in 2015-2016 were probably committed by extreme Muslims. In total there were 218 notifications.
Assaults on non-Muslims by Muslims accounted for only eight percent of the cases identified during the years under review. The main targets of violence were Muslims who were more open-minded or of another religion. Almost the same group consisted of people who converted from Islam to Christianity.
“On the basis of a strict orthodox interpretation of Islam, they are considered apostates, which according to Sharia law should be punished, even to the death,” Kähkönen says.
Sharia means Islamic law based on the Qur’an and interpretations of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad , which in many Muslim countries transcends or supersedes the penal law.
Some of the hate crime reports investigated by Kähkönen are clearly marked by the conviction of the perpetrator, which is loyalty to the Sharia. The person reporting the crime has experienced criticism of Islam as a hate crime against Islam.
THERE is a risk of misunderstanding when interpreting and reporting HATE CRIME reports. Police administration statistics only record the religion of the plaintiff, not the suspect of the crime. This makes it easy for the perpetrators to become victims, Kähkönen says.
“The attribute of Islam-related hate crimes turns into Muslim hate crimes.”
The religious vocabulary of hate crime reports has not been correctly interpreted. “The vocabulary has a strikingly powerful and aggressive tone motivated by Islamic extremism. There are plenty of examples of reasons that an attacker has found to justify his actions, ”Kähkönen says.
Kähkönen believes that the whole picture of hate crime related to religion should be thoroughly investigated. He hopes that the guidelines on recording, interpreting and disseminating hate crime will be rapidly updated.
Police Polytechnic has recorded suspected hate crimes in its current form since 2008. According to Jenita Rauda , a polytechnic fellow, recent reports of crimes in 2017-2018 differ from Kähkönen’s investigation mainly due to more Shia and Sunnis in 2015-2016.
“It was due to the increase in the number of asylum seekers. They had to be placed in reception centers without further examination of their backgrounds. Now the crimes against Muslims to Christians are emphasized. ”
According to Raud, there was no clear reason to exclude the religion of the perpetrators from the statistics.
“Perhaps the fact that the report has remained largely in this basic form throughout. But society is changing, and yes, this practice is worth reviewing.”
“It is clear that more research is needed into the phenomenon to find out what’s behind the numbers.”
Public criticism of extremism is vital in countering it.
KÄHKÖNEN is a long-time religious scholar with no political affiliations. He defended his doctorate in theology in 2000 at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology, on the problems of dialogue between Christian and Islamic representatives arising from the way Islam is presented in teaching and the media.
Kähkönen has also studied in Turkey and speaks Turkish. He has European experience in this field as head of the Religious Dialogue Center in Germany and as a visiting researcher at the University of London.
A new study by Kähkönen explores the ways in which Muslims and indigenous Finns determine how Islam and Islamic extremism are presented to the public. So far, there are far more powerful preconceptions about this topic than academically researched information.
However, recognizing religious extremism and publicly criticizing it is a key element in combating and eradicating it, Kähkönen emphasizes. It is also literally vital for the majority of Muslims who give up extremism.
In his research, Kähkönen deals extensively with Islamophobia, or hateful intimidation of Islam based on artificial or fabricated claims. As a counterpart to this, he raises the blame for Islamophobia.
BEING accused of ISLAMOPHOBIA means that all criticism of acts in the name of Islam is a manifestation of hostility towards Islam.
The model works in the same way as, for example, criticizing the actions of the Israeli authorities systematically trying to label it as anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish.
The essence of the researcher is where the line between Islamophobia and legitimate Islamic criticism lies. Have the authorities and media in Finland been able to pull it to the right place? His answer is: no.
“It is not clear how the pressures and accusations of Islamophobia on the international Islamic propaganda influence the Finnish debate,” Kähkönen says.
Islamophobia is a concept of young people. It was first publicly used in 1991 in the context of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Even though the concept was introduced in the West, it quickly became a tool for ideological influencing of the Islamic world organizations in the West, says Kähkönen.
Old Islamic countries have used the Islamophobic card to limit their criticism of Islam. For example, reports published by the Turkish SETA Foundation on Islamophobia in Europe for 2015-2016 show an alarming increase in Islamophobia in public debate in Finland. The authors argue , among other things, that it is common to label Finns converted to Islam as traitors who should be executed.
The continual labeling of all criticism of Islam as Islamophobia creates pressure that may gradually lead to self-censorship. People are starting to be wary of expressing opinions that negative publicity can hinder career development.
“It is therefore important that the propaganda use of Islamophobia is suppressed with open and critical publicity. It is inappropriate to label negative self-image about Islam as anti-Islam, ”says Kähkönen.
On the other hand, according to Kähkönen, the media must also recognize the intimidating and unjustified intimidation of Islamists, which facilitates Islamophobic perpetration.
BUT has the status of criticizing the abuse of power and fundamental rights in the name of Islam really narrowed down because of the accusation of Islamophobia?
Kähkönen sees signs of this. For example, he cites two major international studies on the position of Muslims, which he believes have been unilaterally interpreted by the media to the detriment of Finns.
Pew, a respected US research institute, explored the religious attitudes of citizens in 15 European countries between 2017 and 2018. The media chose as the news item that, compared to other countries surveyed, attitudes towards Islam seemed to be the sharpest in values in Finland.
According to Kähkönen, the negative stamp was largely selective. The results, which showed that the position of Finns was either more favorable than the average of the analogue countries or even more than most countries, were ignored.
According to the Pew study, Finns were the most tolerant of the religious clothing of Muslim women in all the countries surveyed. Experiences relating specifically to Muslim women’s dress are among the most important criteria for measuring Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims.
“The presence of Muslims was the least disturbing of the Finns in the countries studied,” Kähkönen says.
The Finns also accepted Muslims as a family member more easily than, for example, the British, Irish, Italian, German, Austrian, or Swiss. A total of 83% of Finns accepted Muslims as neighbors.
He said the same selective attitude was repeated in his interpretation of the EU Agency’s Fundamental Rights Report of 2017. It dealt with discrimination against the Muslim population in 28 European countries.
The media created a picture of Finland as one of the most discriminating countries in Europe, says Kähkönen. Yet, in Finland, the experience of discrimination based on the Muslim religion is the lowest of all EU countries surveyed, at 38 per cent. The attitude of the indigenous population towards the Muslim neighbor was average in the EU.
“It is not my purpose to defend or embellish Finns’ tolerance, but to show how selectively researched material is presented and presented that supports the allegedly strong Islamophobia and negative attitude towards Muslims. And ask why. ”
Important principles of ISLAM include the da’wa, the call to Islam, or missionary work.
Enhancing missionary work in the West is one of the OIC’s key operational strategies. It is also the highest-level political issue in Islamic countries.
The OIC sub-organization, ICESCO, the Islamic World’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recognizes as worthy missionary channels activities that promote non-Muslim visits to Muslim countries, marriages with Muslims, and individual efforts to spread Islam.
The NGO Strategy Paper also emphasizes the need for Muslims to maintain a strong and orthodox Islamic identity. This includes, among other things, the goal of teaching Arabic to all Muslims living in Europe, so that the Qur’an remains the supreme guiding principle.
The world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia , is located in the birthplace of the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad.
The Royal House of Saudi Arabia has a duty to cherish and spread the mainstream of Sunni Islam, in its original and pure form, which it calls Wahhabi.
Extreme Wahhabism is based on the literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the hadith accounts of the Prophet Muhammad in the 6th and 9th centuries. Together they form the core of orthodox Islamic doctrines and interpretation of the law. Saudi Arabia spreads this message to thousands of mosques, schools and research institutes that it maintains or supports in non-Islamic countries.
On the other hand, Muslim scholars and religious institutions accepted by Christian and other Muslims who are engaged in missionary work or reforming Islam are strongly opposed.