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Halla-aho claims being victim of “witch-hunt”

True Finns Party MP Jussi Halla-aho says that he feels that a witch-hunt has started against him and free speech after the Norway tragedy. In an interview with AFP, he said that things are completely out of control.

Perussuomalaisten Jussi Halla-aho eduskunnassa.
Kansanedustaja Jussi Halla-aho. Image: YLE

”We have people in political and civil circles who have attacked free speech for years and this has just given them a new stick," Halla-aho told AFP.

Halla-aho, a prominent immigration critic, was approvingly quoted by the self-confessed perpetrator of Norway attacks Anders Behring Breivik in his lengthy anti-Muslim manifesto.

Halla-aho specified that Breivik did not cite him directly, but copied a blogger called Fjordman. Nonetheless, he said his opinions had been interpreted accurately. Halla-aho emphasised that he could not control who quoted him and where.

In 2009, Halla-aho was convicted of violating the right of peaceful worship after anti-Muslim comments online.

According to a spokesman for the Minorities Ombudsman, Rainer Hiltunen, web forums with extremist leanings can create the impression that hate speech is acceptable on the internet. Such places gather like-minded people, Hiltunen told AFP, adding: ”It clouds their sense of reality.”

Halla-aho, however, does not feel that this gives grounds for cracking down on extremist forums.

"No doubt the World Trade Centre terrorists were inspired by the Koran and Islamist chat rooms, but no one is trying to ban the Koran or shut down Islamist websites," he said to AFP.

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