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Neighbourhood watch Soldiers of Odin in the town of Tornio on the Finnish-Swedish border. Tornio saw an unprecedented migrant traffic in the summer and autumn of 2015, when thousands of immigrants, mostly from Iraq, were crossing the border to Finland where for some reason a welfare package to Iraqi refugees is more lucrative than the one they could expect in Sweden… Soldiers of Odin say with the influx the crime rate has gone up. Photo: Lehtikuva/Panu Pohjola

On the wake of the Cologne New Year rape deliberations in the global media, certain new facts of a similar nature have reached the surface in Finland and Sweden. Newly welcomed immigrant youths appear to have raped and harassed local women for as long as they have stayed in their new home countries. It appears that the police have kept these facts to themselves to not bother the public with disturbing knowledge.

The knowledge has been shared thorugh less official channels and the societies have apparently started to respond. A recent article in the Helsinki-based Hufvudstadsbladet “Dangerous not to condemn neighbourhood watch” (“Farligt att inte fördöma patrullerna” here) is quoting a Finnish political researcher who says that neighbourhood watch has not been seen since the 1930s in the pre-Nazi Germany and this phenomenon does not belong to the rule of law.

Rule of law, you say?

Neighbourhood watch in Finland as a reaction to violence is a worrisome development but it seems to be a logical response of civil society to the void created by the authorities. With the purpose to kill the message and warning to their own societies, the authorities have consciously withdrawn from duties to protect. Healthy civil society steps in where state fails.

This is most definitely a huge problem because the state with all its means and resources has failed to protect the victims of rape and molestation, and because civil society does not have the means and resources to replace the authorities. And of course because this type of social mobilisation fuels animosity and bitterness in groups that have always had little tolerance to whatever or whoever is different.

If it is leading to further radicalisation of the right wing, and the right wing is to reap a rich harvest when the countries affected by the immigrant crisis are out to vote, – if so, this will be more than just an outburst of ugly racism. This will be what’s behind racism as we are familiar with it in the East, former Soviet. I am talking about the lack of trust to the authorities that – again very similarly to what we know from our unprivileged corner of the world – resort to doctoring the public opinion.

It is rediculous how readily the authorities are taking up authoritarian rule patterns in naive hope to contain the growing anger. It’s eerie to watch political leaders in an advanced democratic society in 2016 urging victims to restrain themselves not to provoke further violence. It’s distasteful how fast the EU core is killing the Schengen agreement few weeks after grilling Hungary for trying to save it.

Is this the rule of law? I guess we have taken all too much of our democracy and freedom for granted.

The massive invasion of foreign aggressive culture Europe is now facing puts all of us on trial. Not just our tolerance and ability to accept but the very notion of freedom and sound judgment of what is expected of a political leader, the authorities and media in a democratic society.

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