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Non-Discrimination Ombudsman condemns youth group's racist tweet

A post by the Finns Party youth wing shows a fundamental lack of respect for dark-skinned people, the Ombudsman says.

Perussuomalaisten Nuorten puheenjohtaja Asseri Kinnunen
Finns Party youth wing leader Asseri Kinnunen at an election event with party chair Jussi Halla-aho (right) on 14 April. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Finland's Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, Kirsi Pimiä, says that the youth wing of the nationalist Finns Party (FP) is suspected of unlawful ethnic harassment and that one of its social media posts was clearly incompatible with the aims of the Youth Act.

Pimiä declared that the youth group violated the ban on discrimination based on ethnic origin or had at least offended the human dignity of dark-skinned Finns.

She was responding to a post on the youth branch's Twitter account last month. It showed a dark-skinned family with a text urging people to vote for the FP in the European Parliament election "so that Finland's future doesn't look like this".

The Ministry of Education and Culture had asked the Ombudsman for a determination as to whether the FP youth organisation's action was compatible with the Non-Discrimination Act. Pimiä wrote in her statement that the action was in clear violation of the equality clause of the Youth Act.

State may withdraw subsidy

The ministry may claw back 115,000 euros in state aid granted to the FP youth for this year due to the tweet.

The youth group has responded to this threat by saying that the post was "an individual member's Twitter post made in error, which does not represent the organisation's stance". The tweet was posted by the group's deputy chair, Toni Jalonen.

The youth wing later deleted the tweet and said it was thoughtless and contrary to accepted moral principles.

According to Pimiä, the comments in response to the tweet indicated that at least some of those in leadership positions in the FP youth group believed that the post was intended to spread an "ethno-nationalist" message emphasising the status of the white population.

Concerns raised earlier in spring

"It is worth noting that the post was published on a communications channel of the youth organisation of the second-largest party in the Finnish Parliament, and that comments related to the message that are offensive to human dignity have not been deleted," Pimiä said in her statement.

The Ombudsman says that the actions demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect for dark-skinned people and are offensive to these people.

Police are also investigating the case.

In March, well before the social media post, the Education Ministry had already summoned a representative of the FP youth to discuss the ministry's concerns about the group's previous statements on immigration, which it suspected were in violation of the aims of the Youth Act.

Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho and a number of other FP politicians have been convicted of online hate speech over the years. The party is one seat short of being the largest in the new Finnish Parliament, and has led public opinion polls in recent weeks.

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