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Paper: Police asked to probe SDP MP's inflammatory Facebook comments

The newly-elected and controversial Social Democrat MP Hussein al-Taee is now on sick leave, according to the party.

Hussein al-Taee
SDP MP Hussein al-Taee Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Finland’s Office of the Prosecutor General has asked police to look into whether a preliminary investigation should be opened into inflammatory comments made by Social Democrat MP Hussein al-Taee several years ago on social media, according to tabloid newspaper Iltalehti.

On Thursday afternoon it was reported that al-Taee had been admitted to hospital on Tuesday and that he was on sick leave. The anticipated duration of al-Taee’s sick leave was not disclosed but officially began on Thursday. He will not participate in parliamentary matters during his sick leave, according to the party.

The election's biggest winner last month - by a very slim margin - the SDP is currently engaged in initial government formation talks with the major parliamentary groups.

The SDP's parliamentary group chair Antti Lindtman said on Thursday the party would address possible repercussions al-Taee may face for his past inflammatory comments once he returns from sick leave.

Denial then apology

Al-Taee, who became a first-time MP in last month’s general election, admitted earlier this week that he was the author of several anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist comments on Facebook several years ago. He apologised for the comments in his blog and at a press conference on Monday.

Last month news agency STT reported that in 2014, al-Taee had made controversial statements in Facebook posts about the situation in the Middle East, one of which suggesting that Israel and the US had trained Isis terrorists.

Al-Taee apologised for that statement shortly after the STT article was published, but said other derogatory comments about Jews, Somalis, Sunni Muslims, and homosexuals attributed to him were part of a ploy to blackmail him.

However he has since admitted that all of the comments in question were his own.

Former employer, SDP’s reaction

The SDP’s Party Secretary Antton Rönnholm told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Monday the party had not been aware of the comments he now acknowledged making.

Some members within the SDP’s parliamentary group have said they felt deceived by al-Taee, but the party has yet not made any decisions about possible disciplinary action in the matter.

Before he running for parliament, al-Taee worked for the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a conflict resolution NGO founded by Nobel laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.

On Monday, political publication Verkkouutiset reported that the peace negotiation group had removed links related to al-Taee from its website, following the publication of an article in the Jerusalem Post headlined ”Finnish MP under fire for comparing Israel to Isis” on Sunday.

CMI's director Tuija Talvitie said that she was contacted by the Jerusalem Post by email after the paper published its article about al-Taee. She told the paper that the CMI condemns any inappropriate or degrading comments about any ethnic, religious, national or other groups.

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