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Police prepare for demos marking two-year anniversary of Turku terrorist attack

A nationalist group and an anti-Nazi association have informed Finnish law enforcement that they will march on Sunday.

auringonkukka ja taustalla kymmeniä hautakynttilöitä
Photo from the Turku Market Square after the 2017 attack. Image: Johanna Manu / Yle

Two years ago on 18 August, a rejected asylum seeker from Morocco attacked unsuspecting bystanders with a knife in the market square of the southern city of Turku, Finland. Ten people were stabbed; two of the victims died from their wounds. Two groups have told the police they will be marching in the city this Sunday to mark the two-year anniversary of the attack.

A nationalist group calling itself Kansallismielisten liittouma (translated as "Nationalists' Alliance" and going by the initials KL) has informed the South-west Finland Police Department that it will carry out a march named 188 Kulkkavirta ("188 Flower Stream"). The group Turku ilman Nazis ("Turku Without Nazis") will also be on hand to demonstrate, as it has also completed the necessary pre-registration with the authorities.

KL says it is a cooperative for nationalist and patriotic persons. It arranged a similar march last year on the anniversary of the attack, and members of the Nordic Resistance Movement, a far-right group that is banned in Finland, participated.

Police hope to keep marches peaceful

In November 2017, the Pirkanmaa District Court banned the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL) in Finland, as well as its regional chapters and the PVL-linked Pohjoinen Perinne or Nordic Tradition group. PVL appealed the prohibition to a higher court, arguing that it violated freedom of speech, but in September 2018, the Turku Appeals Court overruled the appeal, stating that the neo-Nazi group embraced violence and criminal offences, activity that is not protected by law.

The appeal court decision effectively makes it illegal for the Nordic Resistance Movement to mobilise, demonstrate and distribute propaganda in Finland.

The Turku Without Nazis group says it opposes nationalist groups and objects to such organisations using the terrorist attack date as a platform for promoting their agenda.

The South-west Finland Police Department says it is taking the necessary precautions to prepare for the Sunday demonstrations. It has requested temporary airspace restrictions in the Turku city centre, for example. The unit says its objective is to ensure that the events proceed peacefully, with due respect for the attack victims and their loved ones.

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