Latest update: May 31st, 2012
Immigration from Somalia alone has more than doubled over the past several years. The Helsingin Sanomat newspaper has reported that most of the Somali adults coming to Finland are illiterate, and that the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab has been recruiting young Somalis living in Finland to go to war against the Somali government.
Some Muslim immigrants to Finland have travelled to Pakistan or Somalia to attend jihadi training camps; Finnish authorities have conceded that Somalis are abusing the family unification procedure to facilitate human trafficking.
According to a journalist for the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Tom Kankkonen, who recently wrote a book entitled Islam Euroopassa [Islam in Europe], Finland is also home to several hundred Islamic fundamentalists who adhere to the extremist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam found in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism, which not only discourages Muslim integration in the West, but actively encourages jihad against non-Muslims, threatens to further radicalize Muslim immigrants in Finland, according to Kankkonen, who says these Islamists operate in communities such as the Helsinki Muslimikoti [Muslim Home], the Iqra Association, and the Salafi Forum on the Internet.
In response to the growing threat posed by radical Islam, the Finnish Interior Ministry in December 2010 declared that training individuals to commit terrorist acts would become a criminal offense. The Finnish Security Police (SUPO) has also asked Parliament for €1.7 million in funding to station officers permanently in Africa and the Middle East to stop possible terrorists who might want to travel to Finland.
There are also growing concerns about the failure of ordinary Muslim immigrants to integrate into Finland.
Muslim children in Finnish schools, for example, are often not allowed to take part in school activities such as singing and dancing, which some parents consider to be anti-Islamic. Further, immigrant children apparently often play “the race card” if a solution to a conflict does not go in their favor or if a teacher rebukes a child.
In some instances, Muslim parents have harassed Finnish teachers, as in the case of Tuija Rinne, a Finnish convert to Islam who also teaches in a school in Helsinki. Rinne, who was once the pride and joy of Finnish multiculturalists, was recently forced to stop teaching a course on Islam after Muslim parents accused her of not being sufficiently Muslim.
Among other demands, Muslim parents tried to force Rinne to cover herself in hijab-compliant clothing; they also ridiculed Rinne for teaching belly dancing classes in her spare time. The tensions were defused only after local school officials bowed to Muslim demands and agreed that from now courses on Islam will be taught exclusively by Muslim immigrant teachers and only in their native language.
As their numbers grow, Muslims are also demanding that the Finnish government provide them with more mosques and prayer rooms. There are currently 45 mosques and prayer rooms in Finland, most located in Helsinki; the Islamic Society of Finland, a Muslim umbrella group, says they are overcrowded and inadequate.
As far as Helsinki’s new mega-mosque is concerned, Sunni Muslims say it will not provide any decisive relief for the shortage of prayer space in Finland because the mosque will serve only Shia Muslims. As in other European countries, Sunni Muslims in Finland may now look to Saudi Arabia to fund a Sunni mega-mosque to rival Iran’s Shia mega-mosque.
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org
About the Author: The writer is the Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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