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Finns Party youth wing members convicted of ethnic agitation

The verdict related to content posted on Twitter and Facebook.

Perussuomalaisten ilmapallo.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Two members of the Finns Party youth wing were convicted of ethnic agitation by Pirkanmaa District Court on Wednesday.

Toni Jalonen, former deputy chairman of the Finns Party youth arm, was sentenced to a 50-day fine for incitement against an ethnic group and ordered to pay 300 euros. Johannes Sipola, who served as chairman of the Finns Party Lapland chapter during the 2019 European elections was also convicted of the same charge and ordered to pay a 40-day fine, the equivalent of 240 euros.

Two of the charges relate to images and text published on a Twitter account run by the Finns Party's youth arm, while the third centred on a Facebook post by the same organisation during the 2019 European election campaign.

The Twitter account published a picture of a dark-skinned family, with the text, "Vote for the Finns Party so that Finland's future won't look like this".

Prosecutor: Freedom of expression no excuse

Prosecutors argued that the tweet and related comment represented incitement to ethnic hatred and were not acceptable as political speech.

The defence argued that the intention of the social media messages was not to insult any group of people, but to criticise the European Union.

The tweet led the Ministry of Education and Culture to cancel and move to recover state funding granted to the organisation. The party group appealed that decision in the administrative courts, but filed for bankruptcy in June.

Burka picture on Facebook

The Facebook post in question included two figures dressed in black burkas. The accompanying text read, "Do you want our country to look like this? Don't stay sleeping. Vote."

The prosecutor argued that the Facebook update slandered Muslims on the basis of their religion.

The defence said that the post argued for the introduction of a burka ban in Finland. The youth organisation and the main party subsequently severed ties, and the party now has a new youth chapter.

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