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Monday's papers: Niinistö's warning, Saudi money and new school staff

Domestic outlets explore Finnish-US relations, Saudi Arabian interests in Finland as well as new coaches in schools.

Presidentit Joe Biden ja Sauli Niinistö tiedotustilaisuudessa.
US President Joe Biden met his Finnish counterpart in Helsinki this past summer. Image: Benjamin Suomela / Yle
Yle News

Several news outlets, including Iltalehti, pick up on Finnish President Sauli Niinistö's interview in the New York Times.

The paper said US President Joe Biden has consulted Niinistö throughout Russia's war against Ukraine. The NYT also quotes the Finnish president as saying that Europeans should not dismiss the risks of a wider war.

Niinistö described Russian President Vladimir Putin as highly knowledgeable and even obsessive about Russian culture. According to the paper, Biden had asked Niinistö to reason with Putin to prevent Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

Saudi links

Interior Minister Mari Rantanen (Finns) said the government should investigate whether it would be possible to legally prohibit the flow of Saudi Arabian money to organisations and foundations operating in Finland.

Her comments in Ilta-Sanomat follow its story over the weekend about a mosque operating in an apartment building's clubroom designated as a daycare space. This flat is owned by a foundation called Pohjoismaiden säätiö sr, which receives funding from Saudi Arabian businessmen, according to IS.

The foundation's chairman, Aladin Maher, told IS that he believes the Finnish officials want to suppress the growth of Islam. IS also quotes Maher as making anti-gay comments that Rantanen said were incompatible with western values.

New in school

In light of recent trouble in Finnish schools, Helsingin Sanomat reports that these days some schools employ special coaches to support pupils.

These new professional roles are more focused on students' well-being rather than directly on teaching, according to HS. The city of Helsinki said these coaches' presence has been found to significantly reduce school absences, to the extent that there are now 28 permanent school coaches in the city's primary schools.

"The highlight is recess. It's wonderful to be the adult who always has time to chat," said school coach Hanna-Kaisa Virtanen, who said her remit includes improving children's interpersonal skills.

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