Daily Aamulehti reports on Monday morning that almost a half of Finns believe extremism is on the rise. In a survey of 3,600 people across the country, 46 percent of respondents said extremist organisations will have greater impact in the near future, while 40 percent said their influence will remain unchanged.
Only six percent of those queried believed that extremist groups in Finland would become less influential. The responses were similar regardless of age, gender or income, Aamulehti said. The result of the survey came as a surprise to researcher Tommi Kotonen from the University of Jyväskylä.
“In reality, the extreme right, for example, has become less active in the past few years.”
“However, extremist organisations have received more media attention recently, which likely has had an impact on how people view their influence,” Kotonen added.
The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) divides extremist organisations into the extreme right, extreme left and radical alternative movements focused on a single issue, such as animal rights.
According to Kotonen, established right-wing extremist groups in Finland include the Nordic Resistance Movement, the Soldiers of Odin and Suomen Sisu, while the extreme left tends to be organised in more loose groups opposed to fascism.
Last year, a court in Tampere banned the Nordic Resistance Movement, but the decision has been appealed.
Supo estimates that several hundred Finns are active in extremist organisations, while the most serious threat of terrorism is posed by individuals or small groups motivated by radical Islam, the paper reports.
Beer float mess
A popular summer beer float at Vantaanjoki has caused condemnation among the area’s residents and visitors after participants in the annual event dumped rubbish into the river, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports.
The event, where thousands of people float down a section of the Vantaa river in inflatable dinghies and self-built rafts while drinking beer, has been organised since 1997.
Inka Ritvanen told Ilta-Sanomat that her Sunday morning SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) trip on the river turned into a garbage collection episode.
“I picked up empty cans, clothing, condoms and plastic bags,” Ritvanen told Ilta-Sanomat.
“This makes me really angry. The river and its banks are full of rubbish, and nobody takes responsibility for it.”
According to Ilta-Sanomat, the beer float fan page admits that the event causes a mess that the councils of Vantaa and Helsinki clean up at a cost of 40,000 euros every year. However, the float does not have an official organiser and therefore cannot be banned.
"I assume everybody has a right to float down the river," Ritvanen said.
"But it’s strange that people don’t understand that throwing litter into the water is really bad.”
Berry picker safety
Meanwhile, Iltalehti says foreign berry pickers need to be better advised by their employers about the dangers of open fires.
The tabloid reports that berry pickers in Iisalmi, northern Savo, have supposedly started fires while preparing food in the forest.
“It has not rained properly for two months here and the forest is like a powder keg,” a local resident told Iltalehti.
“All is needed is a single spark and the place will go up in flames like in Sweden or Greece.”
Iisalmi fire chief Pekka Pirhonen says cultural differences create challenges.
“The berry pickers are here doing a job, to which they have a right. However, their employers should give them training and giving advice as it is in the pickers’ interest too that everybody stays safe,” Pirhonen said.
Last week, former Centre Party MP Mikko Kärnä was criticised for tweeting a picture of an open fire he had built while camping in Lapland. Mikael Jungner, who used to head Yle, added more fuel to the fire by saying he does not heed forest fire warnings, which many Finns follow too blindly, in his view.
Several forest fires have broken out in Finland during July.