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Hakkarainen Censured after Racial Comments

The True Finns parliamentary group has issued a censure to freshman MP Teuvo Hakkarainen following comments printed in the newspaper Jämsän Seutu. The group also issued a statement condemning racism and discrimination.

Teuvo Hakkarainen Image: YLE Keski-Suomi / Jarkko Riikonen

The interview published by Jämsän Seutu quoted Hakkarainen using the word neekeri, which is considered a racial slur.

In the interview, Hakkarainen suggested that refugees are lazy and should be put to work "clearing up forests the sleet" and be sent to live in abandoned buildings in the countryside. He said that, in his own work in various countries as a forestry consultant, he had noticed people of European descent worked harder.

Hakkarainen told the True Finns’ parliamentary group leadership on Tuesday that he had not himself used the word neekeri in the interview.

"Completely Uninhibited"

However the journalist, Ilkka Palmu, insisted that he had, describing Hakkarainen as "completely uninhibited". Palmu added that he had not reported Hakkarainen's most provocative statements for fear that the newspaper would be sued.

The True Finns’ parliamentary group considered the matter and the evidence in a three-hour meeting on Wednesday. The group settled on issuing a censure to Hakkarainen over his general recent behaviour, which it said was not in keeping with the dignity required of his position.

Party chair Timo Soini says that Hakkarainen accepted the reprimand.

The new MP was involved in another interview scandal a month ago, when he used the same offending word and a mocking tone to describe immigrants in a video interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Hakkarainen is a 51-year-old Pentecostalist sawmill owner from Viitasaari, central Finland, who dropped out of school after ninth grade.

True Finns Condemn Racism

The True Finns' parliamentary delegation also agreed on a statement condemning all types of discrimination, racism and violence. The statement was read out by its author, MP Jussi Halla-Aho. He himself was convicted of defaming religion last year after making anti-Muslim comments.

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