Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friendship has no color...

My good friend Jacob Matthan who lives in Oulu, Finland, reports in his Jacob’s Blog that they are organizing an Anti – Racism Week in Oulu with the support of CHAFF, Amnesty International, Finnish Red Cross, United Nations, International School of Oulu and Setlementi, from 19 to 25 March, 2007. (This site is linked to Jacob’s Blog where you can read the full report.)

I am shocked to learn that Finland has xenophobia problems. I would request the people of that country to remember – Friendship has no color.
For beautiful pictures, beautiful quotes like the one above, visit
www.words4ever. com


Jacob Matthan said...

Annikki and I have been fighting on this issue for 23 years. We wrote our book "Handbook for Survival in Finland" which looks at the reason for this problem. I served on the Board of the "Same Law For All" Association. I was an advisor of the National Equal Opportunities Network (NEON). I served as the elected member representing the English speaking community in Finland on the National Ethnic Minorities Advisory Board (ETNO). I sat on the Finnish Sports Federation Tolerance Board which was chaired by Tapio Korjus who won the Atlantic Olympics Javelin Competition. And I was the Project Leader of a group which was called "Will You Play With Me?" where I was using games to build bridges between the National Population and the Ethnic Minorities. I also organised an International Conference called "ETHICS 2000" where ETHICS stood for "Effective Tools for Harmonious Integration – Cultural and Sporting Activities". Our present activity called CHAFF (see the CHAFF Blog) is also concentrated on building this bridge. But the forces of fascism loom large over us as the Right Wing gathers strength. Europe is a failed concept and it will result in a couple of decades to something worse than what happened with the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Mats Sjöberg said...

Hello Abraham Tharakan!

I agree that racism in Finland is a problem (as in many countries), but I am not as pessimistic as Jacob. Actually racism seems to be decreasing, slowly but steadily according to some reports. Of course I have not researched this issue actively, and Jacob seems to have infinitely more experience in this issue than I have. I have great respect for people who are actively working with these issues!

It is true that many (extreme) right-wing parties have been getting a lot of votes - in Finland as well - but this has also to do with people being angry at the current economic system and other issues. I do think that this tide can be turned if we do not despair and look closely at the issues in our societies and address them. I have noticed that much of the racism I have seen is rooted in peoples ignorance of the situation of others. I guess you have noticed similar things?

As a side-note, yesterday a Somali woman named Zahra Abdulla got over 4000 votes in Helsinki in the parliamentary elections and was very close to getting into the parliament. Sadly she didn't. But I still think its a good sign that many ethnic Finns voted for her.

Articles by Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you, Jacob and Mats.

Shiv Rajya said...

The Tradition of celebrating Friendship Day started in the year 1935 in US. Gradually, the occasion gained popularity in other parts of the world and today, it is celebrated in almost every country. With the availability of many gift stores, it has become easy to get gifts for friends. You can find attractive friendship bands, flowers and other gift items at 'Post My Greetings' that are specially designed for the day. Exchange the gifts and spend most time with your friends.