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Racist Online Agitation Spreads in Finland

With the rise of crimes motivated by racism in Finland, the internet has become an increasingly significant sounding board for extremist groups and anti-minority organisations in Finland. Law enforcement officials see online extremism to be a growing threat to everyday security.

Kirsi Westphalen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs fears that racist crimes is on the increase, and like all negative phenomena, racism appears to have infiltrated the internet as well.

Prosecutors are calling for more effective ways to respond to incitement to racist acts. State Prosecutor Mika Illman notes that in Sweden there is a law that obliges webmasters to monitor material placed on a website.

The internet also attracts religious as well as political extremist groups. The Finnish Security Police has monitored the activities of Finnish online retailers who have spread racist paraphernalia and extreme right-wing propaganda to customers in Finland and abroad.

Online xenophobia is seen as a serious threat especially as immigration is expected to increase sharply in the near future. There are examples in other European countries how minor conflicts related to cultural misunderstandings over life in apartment buildings can escalate to the point of civil unrest.

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