The so-called Nimbyism (‘Not in My Back Yard’) survey carried out between July 21 and 29 by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) asked around one thousand participants what new services they would tolerate being set up in their neighborhood and what they would oppose.
The poll discovered that while 43 percent would not object to building an alcohol rehab facility in their back yard, only 34 percent of people said that they would be happy living next to a mosque or Muslim prayer room.
The only facility that beat a Muslim place of worship to the most unwanted spot was a needle exchange center for drug addicts, with only 27 percent of votes.
Disabilities, mental health and youth support centers scored the highest, with disabled homes earning 76 percent of the vote. Mental health and asylum-related centers were the least favored.
Islam is a minority religion in Finland, with an estimated 42,000–60,000 Muslims living in the country of 5.5 million people, according to various statistics. Currently, the country is finding favor with tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Somalia, Iraq and Syria in search of a quieter life.
But Finland is also a mixed bag when it comes to the acceptance of other faiths. The country is in the midst of a heated debate on the matter. Recently, the nationalist Finns Party MP Olli Immonnen was lambasted for his statement that called for a “fight until the end” against multiculturalism.
This received a prompt backlash from the more liberal crowd, as tens of thousands across the country took to the streets in protest. However, such demonstrations usually have darker counterparts; white supremacists held a march in return in the city of Jyvaskyla in mid-July, which turned violent and resulted in 32 arrests.
In May, a deputy councilor in Helsinki came under fire for publically suggesting that African men coming to Finland should be sterilized in order “to avoid total collapse.”
Anti-immigrant sentiments are on the rise all over Europe, with far-right parties gaining the upper hand. This seems to be a direct reaction to the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa regions. Fighting and poverty have increased the influx of immigrants to Europe, leaving many members such as Italy, Greece, Germany and Sweden with a heavy burden to bear.
Over 80,000 have arrived so far this year, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 1,820 others have died or gone missing during their risky journeys. The EU has agreed to share the migrant burden, but has been slow to carry out the plan.
However, Finland has a problem all of its own, according to a CNN report from last year, which found that Finland has the most people joining up with jihadist fighters in Syria. The country was ranked top out of 25 Western nations, with Australia, Denmark and Belgium following closely on their heels.