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Monday's papers: Grand mosque scrutiny, Finnish family's sailing drama, and grocery comparison

Finland is looking in detail at plans to build a new 'Grand mosque' in Helsinki, waiting with bated breath to see how a sailing mishap in the South China Sea pans out, and counting every last cent in comparing costs at different grocery stores.

Asiakas vetää ruokakoria perässään ruokakaupassa.
Image: Krtistina Lehto / Yle

Finland could soon see the construction of a 'Grand mosque' in Helsinki. It's a big project, with minarets, a gym, a conference centre, a social centre and other facilities spanning an area greater, Ilta-Sanomat reports today, than the parliament building. If the project is to proceed, Helsinki's planning committee needs to reserve a plot of land east of the city centre for its construction, and that application is in the works.

IS has three pages on the project today, covering its scale and especially the costs. Construction will come in at more than 140 million euros, while running costs are unlikely to be cheap. Financing is one of the lines opponents have taken, with Bahrain offering to facilitate the planning and help arrange money to fund the building itself.

That's the same Bahrain that's been slammed by human rights organisations, and that is close to the wahhabist monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Fears they could bring a fundamentalist doctrine to the mosque are not without foundation, and IS asks researcher Olli Ruohomäki about the risks involved.

"There's no such thing as a free lunch," said Ruohomäki. "The challenge is that an ideology could be fed that is out of tune with the values of a liberal democracy."

That's not a concern for everyone. Helsingin Sanomat publishes a poll on Monday that shows 55 percent of respondents supporting the construction of a Grand mosque, providing it does not cost taxpayers a cent. City councillors are evenly split on the issue, and it has been a campaigning topic for some candidates in Sunday's local elections.

Drama on the high seas

Finland woke on Saturday morning to the news that a Finnish family encountered difficulties while sailing in the South China Sea. They had set out from Hong Kong, where they live, but were in stormy conditions close to the Paracel islands and decided to batten down the hatches, drop anchor, and drift as they rode out the storm.

With two teenage children on board the story quickly grabbed the media's attention, thanks in part to the sailors' decision to use the Inmarsat system to notify the authorities. That allows Finnish mariners to inform the Turku coast guard when they're in trouble, wherever they are in the world, giving the Finnish authorities the chance to liaise with local rescuers.

The situation is not so dramatic as to demand evacuation--the family themselves have not requested that--but it is a gift to the media on a slow news weekend. On Monday stories abound, with the Turku coast guard telling Aamulehti about the family's condition (still okay, if not that comfortable) based on their latest satellite phone call.

There are also stories in Ilta-Sanomat, Helsingin Sanomat and others, but they all say pretty much the same thing: the only thing for the family to do is sit tight and wait for conditions to calm down.

Cheapest food in town

Grocery store comparisons are the bread and butter of Finnish newspapers, and there's a new one out in Kauppalehti on Monday. The business daily takes an amusingly snippy tone as it descends to the level of less specialist publications to discuss the price of a loaf of bread (or a basket of groceries).

"Price isn't the most important criterion in buying food, but it's been talked about so much that Kauppalehti decided to do this comparison," read the comment piece accompanying the article.

The paper references loud ad campaigns by the S-Group chain of stores (including Sale, Alepa, S-Market and Prisma, among others) about a supposed cheapening of its product range. Lo and behold, the KL comparison finds Prisma and S-Market are the cheapest outlets, followed closely by Lidl.

And just so you know, Prisma manages a basket of groceries for just 35.84 euros, Lidl for 37.43, while Stockman charges a whopping 59.45 euros for the same basket of goods. The K-Group shops were between those extremes.

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