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Finnish MP calls for fight against "nightmare of multiculturalism", no comment from party leadership

Facebook post by the prominent Finns Party MP Olli Immonen promises to "fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation", igniting criticism of party leader Timo Soini for his lack of public condemnation of the comments.

Finns Party MP Olli Immonen's Facebook page on Saturday. The slogan on the banner calls for "A Finnish Finland".

The leader of the populist Finns Party has so far remained silent after a prominent MP called on his followers to "fight until the end" against the “nightmare called multiculturalism".

Olli Immonen, member of parliament for the northern Finnish town of Oulu, posted his remarks in English on Friday night on Facebook and on the website of the nationalist organisation Suomen Sisu, of which he is the chair.

The MP, an outspoken opponent of immigration who on his website describes the need to fight the “Islamification” of Finland, predicted in his post “'The ugly bubble that our enemies live in will soon enough burst into a million little pieces.” He added that “We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation.”

The remarks drew widespread condemnation from other politicians, who accused him of inciting hatred. However the 29-year-old's own party leader, Timo Soini, who is also the country's foreign minister, has so far been unavailable for comment.

Personal views

The leader of the Finns Party parliamentary group, Sampo Terho, also refused to be drawn on Immonen’s remarks. “I won’t comment beyond saying that these are one member’s personal views,” he told the news service STT.

Immonen's post comes a few weeks after the MP was given 'stern words' by his party superiors for posting a photograph of himself posing alongside members of a Neo-Nazi group.

The silence of the party leadership over this latest incident has renewed accusations that party leader Soini is unwilling to tackle the extremist elements of his nationalist, eurosceptic party, which is the second largest in government.

A number of members who have made racist or homophobic comments have in the past been allowed to continue in the party, including the Helsinki councilor Olli Sademies, whose recent call for the forced sterilisation of African immigrants was dismissed by the party’s Helsinki group chair as “nonsense”.

Timo Soini has only ejected one MP, James Hirvisaari, from the party, after he brought a neo Nazi as a guest into parliament and posed for a photo in which the guest performed a Nazi salute.

Responding to Immonen’s latest comments, Åbo Akademi professor of politics Kimmo Grönlund told the news agency STT on Saturday that he finds it unbelievable that a member of parliament belonging to a governing party could be calling for a fight against multiculturalism.

”It’s strange if someone is allowed to remain in the parliamentary Finns Party while expounding these views,” Grönlund said.

Ironic choice

Immonen insisted he stands by his comments, and dismissed Grönlund’s criticism.

“If he’d like limits on free speech and the silencing of political views different from his own, he could move to somewhere like Sweden,” Immonen wrote in a further Facebook post.

Immonen was also recently appointed to sit on the governing council of the Finnish public broadcaster Yle, an organisation of which he has been a prominent critic, accusing it of a pro-multiculturalism bias.

Some respondents to Immonen’s Facebook post pointed out the apparent irony of Immonen choosing to write his anti-multiculturalism comments in the international language of English, despite having repeatedly called for Finnish to become the country’s only national and official language.