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No charges over contentious al-Taee Facebook posts

The prosecutor says old social media comments could be construed as defamatory, but did not amount to incitement.

Hussein Al-Taee eduskunnassa 12.9.2019
MP Hussein al-Taee in September 2020, file photo. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Incitement charges will not be filed over anti-semitic Facebook comments made by SDP MP Hussein al-Taee before he ran for office, according to the Prosecutor General's office.

The prosecutor explained that although al-Taee was likely guilty of defamation in one of four of his social media posts, the comments were made in 2011-2016, before he ran for office and he had deleted them independently.

One comment was found to have slandered or insulted Jewish people, with al-Taee suggesting that exploiting others in acts of greed was characteristic of Jewish people.

"The statements were likely to provoke intolerance, contempt and even hatred towards Jews," the prosecutor stated in its decision.

However, the prosecutor said punishing the MP for earlier comments would be unreasonable. In a preliminary investigation al-Taee said that he deleted them before going into politics.

In its statement, the Prosecutor General said that Al-Taee had actively and independently tried to reduce the harm of his actions before the matter became public.

Some statements too old to consider

The three other posts in question, the prosecutor found, did not target any protected ethnic group according to the letter of Finnish law. In one of the examined social media posts, al-Taee made offensive statements about the Saudi monarch.

"[The comment] insulted the Saudi royal family. After all, they are an Arab nation, but not the kind of groups of people referred to in our incitement clause," explained public prosecutor Anu Mantila.

However, the prosecutor general said that al-Taee's comments could be construed as defamatory. Legally, Mantila explained, filing of such charges would need a criminal complaint filed by a victim, but no such complaints have come in.

Additionally, the statute of limitations for the alleged offences would have already expired.

While there were more than four comments examined by the police's preliminary investigation, they were not further scrutinised due to the statute of limitations.

News about al-Taee's old Facebook posts began to circulate shortly after he was elected to parliament in April 2019.

Al-Taee went on sick leave in May of that year, following the backlash that arose surrounding inflammatory comments he had made about homosexuals, Jews, Somalis and Sunni Muslims on Facebook several years earlier.

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