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It has nothing to do with immigration politics…

January 5, 2010
I hope this will not turn into a long-winded rant, but rather be something that is food for thought. I feel the need to comment on the criminal acts committed by Ibrahim Shkupolli on New Year’s Eve in Espoo.
We fielded a worried phone call from my mom who had heard the news in Canada before we did. So when we turned on the TV to find out what was going on, what struck me immediately about the breaking news concerning the murder of a woman and four people at Prisma Sello in Espoo on New Year’s Eve was the fact the suspect’s name and picture were released by the authorities. Understandable given that Ibrahim Shkupolli was a dangerous person who needed to be found ASAP, but the Finnish Police did not hesitate to name him…
Would the Finnish Police have named the suspect immediately if he had been an ethnic Finn? My answer to that is no. For some reason, the authorities and the media outlets see some need to identify perpetrators of criminal acts, especially when the suspect is not a native-Finn. I am not alone with these thoughts, but let me elaborate.
Looking at his picture I also immediately noticed that he was an ethnic Albanian and then thought, “Here we go…” And go they did. They, being the authorities and the media outlets doing their best to fire up the Finnish populace whose virtual shouts began with something along the lines of, “This has to do with immigration politics,” and “Throw all foreigners out of Finland.”
What happened on New Year’s Eve has nothing to do with immigration politics and integration as some government ministers have hinted at in the days following the shooting (Anne Holmlund, Matti Vanhanen). It also has nothing to do with stricter gun control, since the weapon Shkupolli used was reportedly illegally acquired. It has nothing to do with being Muslim, as dozens of uniformed people have suggested on internet discussion boards (namely the CBC in Canada). It has little to do with beefing up mall security overall; though Prisma security guards knew about Shkupolli’s restraining order, Sello security officials did not. The malls in Finland are actually a very safe place to be IMHO.
This event has everything to do with why Shkupolli was not dealt with in a more serious manner by law enforcement in Finland. He had prior weapons offences and a restraining order preventing him from contacting his ex-girlfriend and entering the Prisma Sello premises. He had repeatedly threatened her life. As a person living in Finland, I want answers to those questions because something failed spectacularly on New Year’s Eve.
Shkupolli was not a Finnish citizen. His application for citizenship was rejected because of his criminal history. His residence status was not actually clear: Was he a permanent resident of Finland or did he have to renew his residence permit periodically? There are rumblings as to whether Shkupolli should have been deported for his previous criminal offences instead of having his residence permit extended:
Should Shkupolli have been deported? Sure, given his purported history of violent crime, I don’t believe he deserved a place in Finnish society as a citizen or resident. One thing to consider in all this is that Shkupolli had been in Finland since 1990 and also reportedly had a family here. Immigration Minister Astrid Thors iterates that this is one thing that is considered when carrying out deportation orders of foreigners in Finland.
I don’t think immigrants that have been convicted of violent crimes should have their residence permits extended. I think they should be deported. But at the same time the tightening of regulations make it harder for the legitimate immigrant to settle in Finland. The government apparently wants immigrants, but wants to tighten the rules at the same time, it will do nothing but cause more headaches. Authorities need to do a better job of sharing information on immigrants who have committed violent offences and be clear on the rules about deporting them.
Law-abiding, tax-paying or not, the Finnish Immigration Service treats all foreigners in Finland the same – “You’re here, but we don’t really want you here.” And yes – to me, this is an attitude that has prevailed from day one of my arrival in my new country. A friend of mine applied for Finnish citizenship a few years ago and was rejected:
Seriously?! Yes. This story amazes everyone I tell…
Back to the issue at hand: The Finnish media has not reported that Shkupolli had links to the KLA or any other criminal activity in Kosovo, but this is under investigation. So until the investigations by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Finnish Police report otherwise, what happened on New Year’s Eve was an act of jealousy and revenge. Shkupolli was a disgruntled, jealous ex-boyfriend who hit out at the people who had "wronged" him, and I repeat, has nothing to do with immigration politics or Shkupolli’s integration into Finland.
As a law-abiding, tax-paying immigrant in Finland I think it is fair that I am not painted with the same brush as this murderous thug – which incidentally is playing out now on many internet discussion boards in this country. For those Finns out there who paint one group of foreigners with one brush and another group with a different one, we white, western foreigners in Finland notice it – we do. It is hard not to be touched by the sense of hostility towards “foreigners” that has reigned over the last few days.

RIP to the victims and condolences to their families and friends at this difficult time. Wilted rose

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