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News agency: Soini not ruling out prioritising Christian asylum seekers

Finns Party leader and Foreign Minister Timo Soini says he’s not ruling out the idea of European states prioritising Christian asylum seekers for entry into their countries. Soini told the news agency STT that the position has also been raised by countries such as Poland and Slovakia.

Ulkoministesteri ja puolueen puheenjohtaja Timo Soini puhumassa perussuomalaisten puoluekokouksessa
Finns Party chair and Foreign Minister Timo Soini. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Foreign Minister Timo Soini told the Finnish news agency STT that Europe should primarily provide refuge for Christian asylum seekers.

"Slovakia, Poland and a few other countries have proposed something like this, and I’m not ruling it out at all," Soini told STT Thursday.

Soini however observed that Finland should have its own policy on the matter rather than fall into one camp or another.

The Foreign Minister also called for action on the root causes of the escalating refugee crisis, the conflicts in Syria and Eritrea.

"We must be able to take action. First of all we must send word to the countries of origin that human traffickers are defrauding them, promising homes and livelihoods, but there are no guarantees of anything," Soini remarked.

Finns Party MEP Jussi Halla-aho echoed his party leader Soini, saying that Muslims who come to Europe as asylum seekers face significantly greater integration problems. Halla-aho did not elaborate on the basis of his claim.

Those views were also laid out by former Christian Democratic chair Päivi Räsanen back in 2010. At the time she was reminded by Green MP Jyrki Kasvi that international human rights conventions forbid discrimination on the basis of religion.

Immigration Service: Law does not allow preferential treatment for Christians

According to the Finnish Immigration Service Finnish law currently does not allow the authorities to favour Christian asylum seekers over non-Christians.

"Decision making practice on that basis is not possible based on current laws," said Esko Repo, head of the Immigration Service’s asylum unit.

The Service pointed out that while there are different criteria for quota refugees, even in those cases selections are not made on the basis of religion.

Last year Finns Party MP Ari Jalonen and Christian Democrat MP Sauli Ahvenjärvi, both from the Satakunta region, called for a Christians-only policy for quota refugees, saying it would reduce the probability of Finnish residents being recruited to fight in conflicts overseas.

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