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MP al-Taee says his child protection services criticism was "poorly worded"

The SDP politician had said children with immigrant backgrounds in Finland are often arbitrarily taken into protective custody.

SDP:n Hussein al-Taee eduskunnan talousvaliokunnan tiedotustilaisuudessa Helsingissä 9. helmikuuta 2023.
Finnish Member of Parliament Hussein al-Taee (SDP). Image: Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finnish MP and parliamentary election candidate Hussein al-Taee (SDP) has rowed back on criticism of Finland's child protection services, saying his comments were "poorly worded."

The MP's statement comes after he previously suggested in an Arabic-language that many children with immigrant backgrounds have been taken into custody and placed into care facilities, suggesting that such decisions made by child protection services are often arbitrary.

In a Twitter thread posted on Wednesday morning, al-Taee said that child welfare workers carry out "important work under great pressure with scarce resources."

"In my Arabic-language video, I used the word "arbitrary / haphazard" to refer to people's experience of child protection decisions. My post was poorly worded," al-Taee said.

Finnish news agency STT translated al-Taee's comments on the video, leading to criticism that the MP was engaged in a long-running disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting child protection services.

Marko Juntunen, an associate professor of Middle East and Islamic studies at the University of Helsinki, told STT that the content of al-Taee's video resembled a disinformation campaign that has been going on for years.

In his Wednesday morning tweets, al-Taee addressed the accusations that he had been spreading disinformation.

"I do not accept any kind of disinformation campaign against the authorities. My genuine concern is based on the contact I had with citizens," he wrote.

Previous social media controversy

The 39-year-old al-Taee has previously faced scrutiny over statements he made on social media. Shortly after being elected as an MP in 2019, it was revealed that he made anti-semitic comments on Facebook a few years before he ran for office.

Authorities considered charging the MP with incitement, but dropped the case, with the prosecutor noting in 2021 that al-Taee had made the statements before he ran for office and also deleted them independently.

He is currently running for his second term as an MP from Uusimaa in the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to an SDP election page, al-Taee arrived in Finland from a Saudi Arabian refugee camp when he was 10 years old.

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