Some 150 people gathered in central Helsinki to protest against racism and far-right extremism after neo-Nazi attacks on a similar demonstration in Stockholm. The event saw a strong police presence, but no counter-demonstration by the far right. Organisers estimated the attendance at around 150, gathered at the Havis Amanda statue by the seafront.
"We support Swedes' demands for streets free of racists and racist symbols," said organiser Maryan Abdulkarim. "A society free of racism is also a Nordic question and we can co-operate to achieve it."
The event was called at short notice as a solidarity demonstration intended to show support for anti-racist activists in the Stockholm suburb of Kärrtorp, after an anti-racist demo there was attacked by neo-Nazis last week. Dozens of people were arrested and several injured in the attack. This Sunday saw protests in towns and cities across Sweden as people gathered to protest at the rise of racism and far-right extremism.
Organisers of the Finnish demonstration were pleased with the peaceful outcome of their rally. Individuals associated with the far right attacked the Helsinki pride parade in 2011, while earlier this year there was a stabbing at an event in Jyväskylä attended by authors of a book on the extreme right. No such violence occurred at Sunday's solidarity protest.
"Today in Finland we gathered a broad coalition of different organisations and societies with one message," said Abdulkarim. "That is: No racism on the streets. It feels like that message got through quite well, and nobody has come to disturb the delivery of that message. Maybe we are on the way to a more equal society."