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Friday's papers: Mosque friction, Finns under sanctions, new tick scare, blue moon

Finland's dailies carry a patchwork of news this Friday, with US sanctions against two Finns and Helsinki's coming mega-mosque drawing headlines. And Lyme disease rears its ugly head again, this time without symptoms.

Kuu pilven raossa
Kuu pilven raossa. Image: Eelis Pulkkinen

Helsingin Sanomat runs a piece on the grand mosque planned for Helsinki, reminding readers that the project is in its infancy and hasn't even found a place for the structure to be built yet. Still, Muslim leaders in Finland are calling the mosque plans "mysterious" and secretive, fearing added tension between Shia and Sunni Muslims could ignite over issues such as the religious building's funding.

"A mosque funded by an Arab country does not represent all Muslims. The Islam represented by a mosque like this is always to the tune of those who paid for it," says Welat Nehri of the Finnish Kurds' association in the Helsingin Sanomat piece. The main moneyman for the project is the royal seat of Bahrain, and especially Shia Muslims are worried about the country's political ties to Saudi Arabia and to Salafism or radical Islam.

"This isn't even about tension between Shia and Sunni, but about a power play by Salafists to convince Sunni Muslims to join their cause," says Madjid Bahmanpour, cultural secretary for a Helsinki Shia association.

HS writes that another problem lies in the fact that the entire mosque proposal is being prepared seemingly in secret, by only a few organisers and without the knowledge of central Muslim organisations. The secrecy points to radicalism, Nehri says.

"Finland already has mosques that are home to radical ideologies, and radical elements are funded by these same countries. How can the government monitor this grand mosque, to prevent radicalism?" he asks.

Hockey and energy bosses listed, super-ticks abound?

Local Turun Sanomat has renewed US sanctions as its main story, as they happen to concern Finns: Jokerit ice hockey boss Roman Rotenberg and energy businessman Kai Paananen. Their presence on the sanctions roster is due to their affiliation with those already on the no-fly and fund shutdown list.

The sanctions are against Russia as per the USA's long-standing policy, and are timed – the paper speculates – as a reply to Russia's veto of an initiative to investigate the downed MH17 plane in Ukraine.

And in wouldn't be summer in Finland without another tick-related follow-up. This time tabloid Iltalehti publishes claims of a "treacherous" new strain of tick-borne encephalitis that have been found in Sweden and Denmark. Borrelia miyamotoi, the paper says, can be dangerous because it does not present with any symptoms whatsoever, not even bite marks. This isn't unique to this particular type of encephalitis, IL says, but the new strain can still be deadly if untreated.

"It's probably in Finland already as well," doctor Soile Juvonen says somewhat alarmingly in the follow-up. "Birds and other animals that carry the ticks don't care about borders."

"Blue moon, now I'm no longer alone"

Whether or not Frank Sinatra had actually seen what is called a blue moon or not, Finns have an opportunity to crank up Old Blue Eyes and actually witness the phenomenon for themselves. Iltalehti goes on to describe the event, which essentially means that two full moons will be seen in the same month – the first was on July 2 and the second occurs today, July 31, at 1:43 pm. Perhaps disappointingly, the phenomenon's name is a misnomer and the moon will not be especially blue-coloured.

A whole host of other skybursts can be seen as well, says Jaakko Visuri from astronomical organisation Ursa.

"Right now the active meteor shower types are the Alpha Capricornids, Perseids and southern Delta Aquarids," Visuri rattles off. The maximum visibility of Perseids, for instance, is late on August 12, which is when skyscanners ought to raise their eyes to the heavens and wish upon a star. Or hundreds of them.

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