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Neo-Nazi Concert in Tampere Sparks Concern

An anti-racism network in Tampere is urging foreigners to avoid downtown areas of the city on Friday evening. The Rasmus Network against Racism and Xenophobia says police have warned them of possible unrest surrounding a concert to be staged by four neo-Nazi bands. The groups -- one German, one Greek and two from Finland -- are scheduled to play at a heavy metal rock club on Hämeenkatu in central Tampere. According to the club's promoter, Toni Törrönen, the concert was sold out well in advance. The tour is organised by the Pagan Front record label, which bills itself as "the Hammer of National Socialist Black Metal". The Greek band's website praises the Nazis, while former members of the German band are in prison for murder and neo-Nazi activities. "Based on the information that we have received from various sources, one of which is the police, this concert is going to draw a large number of extremist right wing nationalists into the city," says Peter Kariuki, coordinator of the Rasmus Network's Tampere chapter. "When such great numbers of violent and aggressive people are moving around, we try and encourage foreigners -- especially male foreigners -- to avoid the city centre," he adds. RASMUS is a national network including NGOs such as the Red Cross, immigrant associations, religious communities, labour groups, authorities, as well as researchers and individuals. Police Urge Caution, Venues Cancel Shows

On Friday morning, Chief Inspector Harri Nojonen of Tampere Police said, "At this time we have no clear information as to a potential threat. Of course if there is some unrest we would advise people to stay clear of the area."

The concert was originally scheduled to be held at Tampere University's student union building, but the venue cancelled it in early January. The hall's director, Timo Isomäki, told YLE that "we made a decision that this kind of programme does not suit the University building. We also received some negative customer feedback about the planned event...so we decided to cancel the evening."

The Helsinki bar Kantis also cancelled a Pagan Front concert that was to be held there on Thursday.

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