Husein Muhammed

Former minister and MP for the Swedish People’s Party Eva Biaudet was appointed Finland’s new Ombudsman for Minorities on Thursday 6 May. Biaudet’s designation has caused public debate because she was granted a special exemption from the requirement of containing a postgraduate university degree.

One of the most vocal protestors is Husein Muhammed, lawyer, translator and a politician of the Green party. He made the complaint about the selection procedure to the Attorney General. Muhammed stresses that although he applied for the position himself, his criticism is based on the selection procedure and is not aimed at Biaudet personally.

The Ombudsman for Minorities is in charge of advancing the status and legal protection of ethnic minorities and foreigners and of promoting non-discrimination, equality and good ethnic relations in Finland. The former holder was Johanna Suurpää.

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What are the main problems with the appointment?

- The postgraduate degree was the first prerequisite mentioned in the announcement for the position. Out of 31 applicants, 29 had a postgraduate degree. No particular reason was given as to why Biaudet was chosen instead of someone who fully met the given requirements.

- Biaudet was considered to have relevant experience for the position, but so were at least 10 other applicants. Furthermore, it was emphasised that Biaudet has experience in the relevant field, but in her case it’s mainly in human trafficking, which is only one aspect of the Ombudsman’s function. Other applicants also had experience in other fields the position touches on.

- All in all, the practice of having someone from the majority supposedly representing minorities is questionable. What if the Gender Equality Office comprised of men only? It seems that although immigration officials urge employers to hire immigrants, they are not ready to do the same themselves. Immigrants should be included in decision-making.

Teemu Henriksson