Youths thoughts about Islam and nowadays Finland

StepEurope ry booked a guided tour in English and visited the inspiring exhibition “Numur -Islam and I” together with the youth on 14th of March. The exhibition, was on display at the Migration Institute of Finland between February 28th‒March 20th. It is part of a project “Young Muslims and resilience” at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, led by Docent Marja Tiilikainen. The opportunity was given to young people of Muslim descent to project their relationship to their religious and cultural roots.

The exhibition aims to give a better understanding of how the individuals of Islamic origin may peer at their relation to Islam through the lens of art. The participants have utilized tools of the contemporary arts to paint up their ideas. Arrays of photos clung on the walls aside the calligraphic portraits scripted in Arabic. These are first items what would capture one’s gaze, once you visit the exhibition, in addition to the Sufi Masa, spinning in the middle of the room. Muttaqi Khan is one of the artists who lives in Helsinki, and who took several photos of “his Helsinki”. His photos emerge the way he sees this Northern city from a personal view as an individual of Muslim background. Muttaqi, the son of an Imam, was born in Jyvaskyla. He belongs to a conservative family, and he says that whenever he visits his country of origin, Bangladesh, he feels that his home is Helsinki. This denotes vividly that Muslims who grow up in a Western environment interact with elements of their environment on a completely personal level.
Islam is a personal view and a cultural past.

The exhibition materializes how Islam is being shown from various personal views of each artist ‒ how they associate with Islam and what kind of relationship ties them to it, and it also pops up in the relationship between them and the society they are living in. For example, being a Muslim did not barrier Sara Salmani to create her own videos alongside her husband and their newborn child: enjoying and balancing life as a successful Muslim woman and mother seemed to be the theme of her contribution in the exhibition. Sara’s video is an intimate account of her life during the first year of her small baby girl. She shows great affection to her beautiful child, and is keen to record the moments of her life as a happy Muslim family in Finland. Moreover, she discusses the role of Islam in her life as a woman, entrepreneur and a mother.

Many guided tours were arranged during the exhibition to enable visitors to learn more about the background of the artwork and ask questions. Several school classes attended the exhibition as part of different courses, and they seemed to be curious to explore new cultures, religions and ways of thinking. This experience would give anyone a better understanding concerning the Muslim community living in Finland, which is a growing religious minority the country. Some art work represented a bold initiative in challenging and providing a new reading of Islamic concepts and interpretations. In addition, the concept of homeland(s) in relation to multiple identities was explored.


Pictures: Ahmed Zaidan

Community Activities: How To Get In, To Fit In

Suppose you move to a new country. You are new to the culture, traditions and ways of life. If you do not know anyone beforehand, you would be left out in the open, not knowing where to start, and almost susceptible to social isolation.

Humans, as we all know, are social beings. With the exception of some of us, we all love to be among people, preferably who share similar interests and views. Whether it is a small gathering at home or a large training seminar, we all want to acknowledge that in the end, we established some commonality with our peers.


It’s all well and good in your home town, with your many friends and wellwishers, but how would you best integrate with the community in a new town? If socializing and familiarizing are what’s on your mind, there are many things that you can do.


Here are a few of them:

➢ Find groups that suit you. With social media use so widespread, it is effortlessly easy to find and join a group that engages in regular activities. Facebook pages and Meetup groups are the perfect way to start.

➢ It also helps to join the giveaway or fleamarket groups. You buy things you need at dirtcheap prices, and you will make new acquaintances. Of course, make sure the groups are verified and safe.

➢ Don’t hesitate to talk to people. If you need help, instead of turning to Google, look for the nearest person and speak to them. It could be something as basic as asking them for directions, or the bus timings. Yes, it is shocking to hear about such brazen social interactions in Finland, but you would be pleasantly  surprised to learn how often such interactions lead to a friendship, your very own “meetcute” friendship story.

➢ Find the town’s expat network. Attend their  meetings and activities when possible. Such networks function like a support group where you get acquainted with people in the same situation as you are, and realize that it’s nice to live there after all.

➢ Find out if you’re eligible for free language classes, and do not hesitate to enroll.

➢ Visit the town’s youth centre or other notforprofit organisations. They are always looking for volunteers and would be glad to have you.

Such opportunities are no less here as well, in the charming city of Turku. One such organisation is StepEurope ry, that has been active since 3 years, working towards building a strong community where people of different ethnicities coexist. Its wide spectrum of activities vary from something as simple as a coffee gatherings, to bold activities such as ice swimming, gardening projects for the environmentconscious, to trainings, workshops and seminars that promote tolerance and sense of community.

So go out there, have fun!

Remember, communication, leads to community.


Europe’s Refugee Crises and the Role of Youth – training , UK 16-24 May 2018

Interested to participate a week-long Erasmus plus training in UK from May 16-24, 2018?
StepEurope ry is sending four participants to the training course, which  is about the refugee ‘crisis’ in Europe. Over the last five years the Middle East and Europe have been affected by wars, revolutions, armed conflict and tensions between societies and communities. This course will take a holistic view of the current situation across Europe. It will equip participants with the practical tools needed to engage positively with the challenges back home and help make our societies beacons of hope, positivity and inspirational change. The course will use non-formal learning methods and will take place in the beautiful surroundings of the ASHA Centre in the Forest of Dean, in the U.K. a centre of excellence in intercultural dialogue and international youth work.
Themes addressed will include:
  • Understanding migration and asylum issues
  • Being part of an interconnected and interdependent world
  • Working with other people’s perspectives
  • Making human connections across social and cultural divides
  • Discovering the richness of other countries, cultures and faiths
  • Taking action to transform lives
Participant Profile
  • Passion for the topic
  • Good English speaking skills
  • 18 or over
  • Resident of Finland
ASHA reimburses travel expenses 80% of 270€.
Participation, accommodation and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are all provided free of charge.
1. Please pay the StepEurope ry’s membership fee, if you are not a member already.  (10€ for the whole year, info on how to pay can be found from here.
2. Fill the application form and send to both of the following addresses:
Please apply by 19th of March,the ultimate deadline to apply is 26th of March!!
For more information from Asha Centre check:

Newbies Evening 7.3.2018

We are going to organizing newbies evening to welcome newcomers to StepEurope ry, introduce our activities and getting to know each other in a relaxing international atmosphere. We will have small interactive games and share coffee, tea and evening snacks. Everybody is welcome, no prior registration needed.

“Numur – Islam ja minä” Art Exhibition 14.3.2018

“Numur – islam ja minä” is an exhibition made by a group of young Muslim-based Finns showing through art on how to live in a 100-year-old Finland. The exhibition address themes such as living in between two cultures, gender roles and relations between generations. StepEurope ry has booked a time for a guided group visit to the exhibition in English. The exhibition is free of charges. Let’s meet at 4:45 at the lobby of the Migration institute.