Two anti-immigration politicians with criminal convictions for inciting ethnic tension were admitted on Wednesday night to David Cameron’s eurosceptic alliance in the European parliament.
The situation is the result of an unexpected move that defied the reservations of some in Downing Street in which Tory MEPs overwhelmingly voted to join forces with the Danish People’s party and True Finns. The two parties are former allies of Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence party.
The decision helps take the European Conservatives and Reformists group [ECR], established by Mr Cameron in 2009, to 55 seats, making it the fourth biggest group. A planned vote on also admitting the anti-euro Alternative für Deutschland was postponed after Mr Cameron warned that this would sour relations with Berlin.
Morten Messerschmidt, a senior DPP figure and a rising star in Danish politics, was convicted in 2002 for publishing material that appeared to link a multiethnic society to rape, violence and forced marriages. Jussi Halla-aho, a newly elected True Finn MEP, was convicted in 2012 of stirring ethnic tensions after writing a blog on freedom of speech that claimed Islam “reveres paedophilia”.
Speaking to the Finnish media on Saturday, controversial Muslim cleric Bilal Philips denied extremist ties or preaching violence against homosexuals. Philips, who started a two-day visit to Finland on Saturday, urged Finland’s Muslims to actively participate in society and warned young men against going to Syria to take up arms.
Answering questions from the press, Philips flatly denied that he promotes radical views. He stressed that his aim is to teach the truth of his religion, which is not a call for violence.
“My main message to Muslims, wherever I go is to know what the true teachings of Islam are, because these true teachings do not allow terrorism. They don’t allow those extremist acts like suicide bombing. It doesn’t allow it. So how does it spread? How does it happen to be amongst the people? Because of ignorance where some individuals, extreme individuals, exploit the ignorance of people and promote this. So actually by banning me, by not allowing me in the country, and people like myself, they are actually opening the door to terrorism,” he said. “The religion calls to moderation, to a moderate path to a middle path, to avoid the extremes,” Philips stressed.
Managers at a Helsinki clothing store have been fined over an incident in which they fired a Muslim worker on her first day at work because she was wearing a headscarf.
Helsinki District court has fined managers at a Helsinki clothing retailer for discriminating against an employee on the basis of religion. They received 20 day-fines for sacking a Muslim worker who was told she should not wear a headscarf.
The new worker, who had been hired on a one-month contract, was fired on her first day at work when managers realised she wore a headscarf. She had been hired over the phone, and told to turn up wearing a t-shirt and denim overalls. The store manager forbid her from wearing the headscarf in the store, and after discussing the matter with a senior manager fired the new employee.
The defendants denied that their decision was discriminatory, saying that a scarf that ensured only the worker’s face was visible did not fit the company’s brand. That view was not shared by the district court, which ruled in favour of the prosecutor and fined the defendants.
YLE News, 24 March 2014
The governing council of the opposition Finns Party voted unanimously to expel controversial MP James Hirvisaari following his admission that he took a photo of a friend posing in a Nazi salute at the Parliament – and later posted it online.
The party leadership upheld a proposal mooted Thursday by a working committee to strip lawmaker James Hirvisaari of his party membership. The unanimous decision came Friday during a meeting of party leaders, and follows the latest in a string of misdeeds by the flambouyant politician.
Police are looking into whether or not to launch an inquiry into Facebook posts made by Finns Party municipal election candidate Amon Rautiainen. The Kotka candidate reportedly criticised Islam and said it would be “patriotic” to eliminate Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen.
Among the more inflammatory comments allegedly made by the Finns Party standing for election in the southeastern municipality of Kotka was a call for Muslims to be cooked alive.
Officials in the south-eastern city will later this month take a stand on a local council proposal to ban mosques.
In 2009, Finns Party councillor Freddy van Wonterghem made the proposal, which seeks to ban buildings “harmful to the cultural identity of the city.”
The proposal will come before the city planning board on August 21. Kotka city zoning chief Lars Olsson says current laws don’t provide for a ban on building mosques and says public debate is instead needed on Finns’ attitudes toward newcomers and representatives of different faiths.
Yle, 10 August 2012
Finnish lawmakers on Wednesday forced a member of the opposition Finns Party to resign from an influential parliamentary committee after he was fined for making racist remarks, the latest in a string of setbacks for the anti-euro party.
Finns Party lawmaker Jussi Halla-aho was fined by the Supreme Court on Friday for comments posted on his personal blog in 2008 which linked Islam to paedophilia and Somalis with theft. Somalis are a major immigrant group in Finland.
Members of all political parties other than the Finns Party agreed on Wednesday that Halla-aho should quit as chairman of a parliamentary committee dealing with immigration and state security. He resigned from the post, although he will stay in parliament.
“Although I consider the attack against me as unreasonable … I don’t want to unnecessarily prolong the circus generated by others,” he said on his party’s website.
Finland’s Supreme Court has ordered controversial Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho to pay a fine for his anti-Islamic blog posts dating back to 2008. He is also to delete certain writings from his blog.
Finland’s highest court ordered Halla-aho to pay 50 day fines, instead of 30 levied by a lower court, for statements about Somali immigrants.
Two lower courts previously dismissed hate charges against Halla-aho and only fined him for defaming religion.
The Supreme Court said Halla-aho’s posts, which likened Islam to pedophilia and said Somalis are predisposed to stealing and living off welfare, qualified as inciting hatred against an ethnic group. In its ruling, the judiciary said hate speech does not fall under the protection afforded by the freedom of speech.
Halla-aho chairs Parliament’s Administration committee, which deals with immigration issues.
Yle, 8 June 2012
See also “Soini: No action on Halla-aho court ruling”, Yle, 8 June 2012
Anti-Islamic, far-right factions in Finland are well-connected, with influence reaching into the chambers of Finnish parliament, finds Yle’s Swedish-language investigative programme Spotlight.
The programme links several Finns Party members to the Finnish Defence League (FDL), a Finnish chapter of a far-right street movement in the UK which claims to protest against “militant Islam.”
Reporters found that several local Finns Party politicians have been active on the FDL’s website. Spotlight’s investigative journalists discovered that the Finns Party has expelled one of its members active in the FDL to prevent negative publicity.
Tampere University researcher Jussi Jalonen says that Islamophobia is also rife among Finns Party members involved with the nationalistic Suomen Sisu association, which calls for “separate but equal” treatment of cultures and races “blurred by multiculturalism.”
Last week, the Finns Party appointed the chair and founder of the immigration-critical chat room Hommaforum to head its paper and online site. This new editor-in-chief has also been associated with Suomen Sisu.
Finns Party MP Olli Immonen meanwhile says he does not see a problem with criticising Islam, stating that “Islamisation is one of the most significant challenges facing western culture.”
YLE News, 10 May 2012
According to the Turun Sanomat, Finns Party MP James Hirvisaari, who was last year convicted and fined by Kouvola District Court for incitement to ethnic or racial hatred, is in trouble again.
This time the cause is his parliamentary assistant Helena Eronen, who suggested on her blog on the Uusi Suomi website that making it mandatory for immigrants to wear armbands would make policing significantly easier.
“If every foreigner was obliged to wear a mark on their sleeve stating their country of origin, then the police could see at a glance that ‘aha, there’s a muslim from Somalia’, or ‘aha, that’s a beggar from Romania’,” Eronen wrote. Muslims could be assigned a crescent mark, Eronen added, and Russian immigrants a hammer and sickle emblem. She also proposed identifying marks for Swedish Finns and homosexuals.