Awards to Berhan Ahmadi, the church’s bold and visible actions when the large number of asylum seekers surprised the Finns last autumn and for the multiculturalism of Turku Market Hall.

Based on the suggestions made by the residents of Turku, the City of Turku has appointed Berhan Ahmadi as the year’s New Citizen of Turku 2016. He works as a restaurant chef and is an active member of Service Union United PAM, Demarinuoret (young Social Democrats) and ETNO, the advisory board of ethnic relations.

“Berhan Ahmadi is always ready to help those in a weaker position. He is a well-known advocate for integration of immigrants and has, through his own actions, proved that an immigrant can adapt to a new country. Berhan is as much of a Turku resident as anyone can be,” says one person who suggested Ahmadi as the New Citizen of Turku.

Church’s bold and visible actions

The award of Multicultural Act 2016 goes to the church’s bold and visible actions when the large number of asylum seekers surprised the Finns last year: Archbishop Kari Mäkinen was nationally noted as a brave advocate for the human rights of those suffering from the conflicts and Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala became known as the promoter of dialogue between cultures and religions. In addition to these, the congregation of Turku and Kaarina was quick to accommodate refugees in their camp in Heinänokka.

Photo: Timo Jakonen

Heinänokka is a hub of cooperation for scouts, the Finnish Red Cross, congregations and their volunteers, organisations, the university and several other parties, where asylum seekers have received a warm welcome.

Everyday multiculturalism in the Market Hall

The Turku Market Hall is awarded for its everyday multiculturalism. The Market Hall is a mirror of the community and it has naturally developed into a multicultural trading centre over time. Visiting the Market Hall is voluntary, everyday form of multiculturalism for the whole population.

Photo:  KMG Turku

“During recent months, it has been seen that acceptance of immigrants and their integration can be disruptive for society, and there has been unrest in Turku, too. That is why it is good to bring up pioneers like Ahmadi, bold actions and functional everyday multiculturalism, which show that we can overcome all obstacles by co-operating and being humane,” says Mayor Aleksi Randell.

From left to right: Chair of Kauppahallin kauppiasyhdistys Jari Heinonen, Year’s New Citizen of Turku Berhan Ahmadi, Jaakko Manelius from Kalaliike S. Wallin, University Chaplain Laura Kajala, Camping Centre Supervisor Taina Vuorimies, Bishop Kaarlo Kalliala, Cathedral Dean Heimo Rinne, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, Johan Hellsten from Herkkunuotta and Mayor Aleksi Randell. Photo: Hanna Suominen