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Yle journalists: "It’s time to expand what it means to be Finnish"

Susani Mahadura and Yagmur Özberkan said it's time for some of the outdated terminology used to describe people living in Finland to be broadened.

Mahadura & Özberkan
Susani Mahadura and Yagmur Özberkan. Image: Anne Hämäläinen / Yle

Narrating the upcoming mega documentary '24h Europe' led Yle journalists Susani Mahadura and Yagmur Özberkan to reflect on what being Finnish means.

The duo, whose show Mahadura & Özberkan broadcasts in Finnish on Yle Puhe, said 24h Europe, airing on Yle later in May, spoke to them in terms of how the media forges national identities. The documentary is a 24-hour expedition into the lives of young people living on the European continent.

"Immigrants and racialised youths receive little media coverage. Muslims and other religious groups are often stereotyped and that’s problematic," Özberkan explained.

Who's Finnish anyway?

Susani Mahadura was born in Savo, eastern Finland, but traces Sri Lankan roots on her father’s side. Yagmur Özberkan moved to Finland from Turkey at the age of five.

The women said it's time for some of the outdated terminology used to describe people living in Finland to be expanded.

"On paper my brother is a second-generation immigrant but that’s an absurd idea to me as he is born and raised in Finland," Mahadura exclaimed. ”There are so many perspectives on being Finnish, and there’s more than one model.”

On their show, Mahadura & Özberkan often challenge Finnish societal structures and taboos, particularly in relation to minorities in Finland.

This spring their award-winning show has dealt with topics such sex rights for the disabled. But the pair said their favourite episode recently explored what it’s like to be a minority within a minority. Guests on the segment included three rainbow youths, a Sami, a Muslim and a Finn of colour.

The documentary '24 Europe' will air on Yle Teema and stream on Yle Areena between May 25 and 26.

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