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Some were "foolish", others "still have a point": Finns Party chair says of illegal blog comments

Jussi Hallao-aho evaded questions about whether or not he stands by comments that earned him a hate speech conviction.

Jussi Halla-aho
Jussi Halla-aho Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

Chair of the nationalist Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho has not entirely distanced himself from old blog posts that resulted in his conviction on hate speech charges. Last week Halla-aho did not answer questions from a Helsingin Sanomat reporter who tried to ask whether or not the head of the populist party still stood by his writings.

The reporter was ordered to hand over the microphone during the party press conference and his questions were not addressed. Halla-aho took to his blog on Saturday to address the issue.

"Some were foolish and imprudent comments. Some were the kinds of comments that you can make as a regular citizen but not as a politician. And others were the kind that taken out of context sound wild, but which had and still have a point," Halla-aho commented of the now-decade-old texts.

Halla-aho "tired of having to respond" to posts

Last week daily Helsingin Sanomat revisited those writings, which at the time resulted in a conviction for religious defamation and ethnic agitation and saw the Supreme Court stiffen a lower court penalty from a 30-day to a 50-day fine for the offences. The Supreme Court ruled that Halla-aho’s posts, which likened Islam to paedophilia and said Somalis are predisposed to stealing and living off welfare, qualified as inciting hatred against an ethnic group.

The party chair also used his blog to address the incident last Thursday, in which he called for HS journalist Jarno Hartikainen to hand over the microphone when he tried to ask Halla-aho about his position on the old posts.

The party leader said that the press conference, which had been organised to deal with upcoming European parliament elections, should not be used to go through his blogs in detail.

"The alternative was to take the microphone away from the reporter and give to another who had something to ask about the day’s theme."

Halla-aho said that he was tired of always having to respond to his written opinions during elections, when according to him, people "rediscover" his blog, titled Scripta.

"The fact that following any election, reporters attack the same phrases is a ritual and a compulsory move, nothing more," he wrote.

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