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Religious leaders jointly condemn clampdown on family reunification

Seven leaders of religious communities in Finland have together submitted an opinion piece that appeared in the country’s leading daily Helsingin Sanomat Sunday. The letter protests the country’s new policy making it more difficult for new residence permit holders to bring family to join them in Finland.

Äiti pitää kiinni lapsen käsistä.
Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Finland’s top circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat published an opinion piece contributed by the high-profile leaders of seven different religious communities in Finland, asking that the state reconsider its tightening of family reunification policy in Finland.

In the piece entitled “Asylum seekers have an equal right to their family”, the leaders remind Finland’s government to adhere to the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Simon Livson, chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Finland, Kari Mäkinen, archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and Archbishop Leo, head of the Finnish Orthodox Church joined with Teemu Sippo, bishop of Finland’s Catholic Church, Atik Ali, leader of the Finnish Islam community and the Usko-foorumi, Anas Hajjar, chair of the Islamic Council in Finland and Mari-Anna Pöntinen, the head of the Finnish Ecumenical Council.

In the letter, the seven leaders say they share a concern about hardened attitudes in Finland and what they say is the slow dismantling of equal human rights in European society.

They argue that every child and parent is entitled to protection and care, and that families have a right to live together, regardless of their social, cultural or religious background.

“Outside of Finland’s borders in Europe, human dignity is violated, for example, with intentional practices, like confiscation of mobile phones from unaccompanied asylum seeker minors. Oftentimes the phone is the only link these children and youth have to their parents, or people who speak their own language even. All forms of isolating family members from one another impede integration and beget social problems,” the seven religious leaders write.

The leaders finish by saying that they support Finnish decision-makers, officials and volunteers in their demanding work.

“We want to reinforce the idea that all humans be treated with dignity in our society. Our values as Finns are discernible by our words and our deeds.”

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