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Finns Party youth wing denied state funding after racist tweet

The Ministry of Education and Culture will recover 57,000 euros that the youth wing had already received.

Eduskuntavaalit 2019. Perussuomalaisten vaalivalvojaiset. PS-Nuorten puheenjohtaja Asseri Kinnunen.
Asseri Kinnunen, the chairman of the Finns Party Youth (pictured). Image: Tuomo Björksten / Yle

The Ministry of Education and Culture has terminated this year's government funding of the Finns Party's youth wing for violating the objectives of the Youth Act 2017.

The youth wing was to receive a total of 115,000 euros, and the ministry will now recover the 57,500 euros that has already been paid.

The youth wing of the populist party had come under fire for an offensive tweet they had posted and later deleted on their official account — it depicted a dark-skinned family accompanied by the text, "Vote for the Finns Party if you don’t want Finland’s future to look like this."

The grant is part of the Central government funding for youth work offered by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

"Youth organisations wishing to receive a grant from the Ministry must comply with the Youth Act. If it does not want to comply with the law, the organisation has to finance its activities from sources other than youth work funds," Director General Esko Ranto said in a release.

Historical decision

According to the Ministry, this is the first time that a grant will be recovered from a youth organisation for violating the objectives of the Youth Act.

Henni Axelin, Deputy Director General at the Ministry of Education and Culture, explained that they had discussed this matter with party representatives earlier in March.

"At that time, however, we did not take any other measures, such as withdrawing the grant, because we wanted to give the organisation the time and opportunity to correct their situation independently," Axelin said.

The Finns Party's youth wing intends to appeal the decision.

"The organisation will make a request that the ministry rectifies this decision, and if they do not rectify it, then the only option is to take the matter to court," said the organisation's secretary Toni Saarinen.

Earlier in June, Finland's Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, Kirsi Pimiä had stated that the youth wing is suspected of unlawful ethnic harassment and that one of its social media posts was clearly incompatible with the aims of the Youth Act.

Helsinki police had also launched a preliminary investigation into the matter of the tweet, which the youth wing deleted, calling it "ill-advised" and "thoughtless" after facing a backlash.

Jussi Halla-aho and a number of other politicians from the party been convicted of online hate speech over the years.

EDIT Toni Saarinen's quote added at 18:25 on 19 June 2019.

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