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SDP: Authenticity of MP Hussein al-Taee's social media posts "news" to us

SDP says the party did not know that antisemitic, homophobic and other comments made by MP Hussein al-Taee on social media were authentic.

Hussein al-Taee
Hussein al-Taee Image: Laura Railamaa / Yle

Following news about alleged antisemitic, homophobic and racist Facebook comments made by Social Democrat MP Hussein al-Taee, al-Taee admitted in his blog on Monday that they were authentic and he was the author. Previously, he had questioned whether they were written by him.

Social Democrat Party Secretary Antton Rönnholm told daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that this admission of authenticity was news to him and the party, and on Thursday al-Taee will have the opportunity to explain himself at a parliamentary session.

”Previously he (al-Taee) had said that he would go through his previous posts when we asked him to check what he had written," said Rönnholm in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat.

Al-Taee's made derogatory comments about Jews, Somalis, Sunni Muslims, and homosexuals.

Press conference apology

Late Monday afternoon al-Taee held a press conference at the Parliament House in Helsinki and apologised for his his inflammatory comments. He said his apology was particularly directed towards the homosexual, Jewish and Sunni Muslim communities, along with "many others" who were hurt by his Facebook posts.

He also apologised to his supporters, voters and party as well as his former employer the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI).

“I also wanted to apologise to the SDP about the fact that I haven’t been completely open with them. I did not tell them or the CMI the whole truth. I wasn’t brave enough,” al-Taee said Monday afternoon.

The newly-elected MP said he will try to be worthy of the trust of his supporters and friends, adding that he wants to use his position as an MP to work towards preventing polarisation.

Crisis Management Initiative removes mention of former employee

On Monday morning political news publication Verkkouutiset reported that conflict resolution organisation the CMI had removed mention of former employee Social Democrat MP Hussein al-Taee from its website. Al-Taee had also removed references to CMI from his Twitter profile.

CMI was founded by Nobel laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari in 2000 and al-Taee became a newly-elected MP in Finland's recent general election.

CMI's and Al-Taee's deletions appear to have taken place shortly after a Jerusalem Post article headlined ”Finnish MP under fire for comparing Israel to Isis” was published on Sunday.

In the article, Dr Efraim Zuroff, the head of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, told the Jerusalem Post that al-Taee is ”obviously an antisemite” referring to several different social media posts by al-Taee.

Facebook posts cause controversy

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

Responding to STT, al-Taee said, ”I want to apologise for equating Israel and Isis because that comment was simply stupid and does not represent my values in any way."

Yle reported on al-Taee's comments last week when the newly-elected SDP MP came under scrutiny over contentious Facebook posts and his then-employer CMI said it stood behind al-Taee.

According to Verkkouutiset, a political publication owned by the National Coalition Party, 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 on Sunday. She reportedly said that the CMI condemns any inappropriate or degrading comments about any ethnic, religious, national or other groups.

Verkkouutiset reported that according to CMI's Twitter feed, the reason that al-Taee's name is no longer on the website is because he started working as an MP last Tuesday and no longer worked for the conflict resolution group.

Edit: Updated at 5:10 pm to reflect SDP's comments and Hussein al-Taee's admission of the authenticity of his social media posts.

Edit: Updated at 6:31 pm to add al-Taee's apologetic comments made at a press conference in Helsinki late Monday afternoon.

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