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Thursday's papers: More police, heightened anti-immigrant sentiment and an appeal for more babies

Thursday's papers in Finland examine how Finland's police are adapting to a new security situation after the country's first terrorist attack. They also look at immigration policy opinions and a scandal over making babies in the SDP.

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Maailmassa syntyy miljoonia vauvoja, jotka kärsivät synnynnäisistä vaurioista. Kuva Indonesian Jakartalta vuodelta 2016. Image: Adi Weda / EPA

Turku daily Turun Sanomat contains an article this Thursday about an increased police presence in the former capital city after last Friday's stabbing attack.

Police officers are now out in force in the Turku Market Square, popular pedestrian areas and nearby shopping centres. The paper talks with constables Anssi Paananen and Hanna Laaksonen, who are patrolling around the Hansa retail hub in the centre of the city. 

"A lot of people have come up to talk with us; there's even been some hugging. Everyone has been deeply affected by the Friday events," Paananen says.

Readiness levels have been raised, with a special emphasis on a more visible police presence on the street. Commissioner Kai Loukkaanhuhta from the Southwest Finland Police Department says the work to increase general security has focused on all areas of the city and its surrounding towns where large groups of people gather. He says his force will dial back its presence as the situation calms down.

Rethinking police equipment and procedure

National Coalition Party website Verkkouutiset continues in the same vein with an item from the Uutissuomalainen news agency about the police evaluating their readiness practices in light of the new security situation.

National Police Board superintendent Ari Alanen tells the publication that the police are considering whether to change their policy about carrying arms, for example.

"We are thinking about what kinds of weapons and protective gear our officers should be equipped with when they are in the field. If they encounter a situation like what we saw in Turku, our response capacity must be as high as possible," he says.

When it comes to firearms use, Verkkouutiset says Finnish police follow principles that differ widely from other European countries and the US. Finnish law enforcement officers never use their weapons with the intent to kill. In Finland, a gun is used as a last resort to stop the suspect or defuse a threatening situation.

"It is a fundamental principle. There is no lethal use of force in Finland, like the kind you see in the US," Henri Rikander, a researcher at the Police Academy tells the publication. "Force is only used to the extent that resistance is broken or the activity is stopped." 

Unsurprising leap in immigrant intolerance

The tabloid Iltalehti polled its readers about Finland's immigration policies in the wake of the attack, and the response revealed a jump in critical attitudes. Every second Finn now says that they are more worried for their safety.

The survey, carried out by pollster Taloustutkimus, suggests that a majority of Finland's residents, 58 percent, now want the government to come up with tougher refugee and immigration policies. In a similar poll from Yle last April, this percentage was just 40, notes the tabloid.

Eight out of ten respondents say they would be willing to get behind separating rejected asylum seekers from the rest of society and removing them more quickly from the country. The same amount would be ready to pass the expanded intelligence laws and increase the number of police.

A majority of respondents are also against raising the number of so-called 'quota refugees' admitted by Finland, a move that most of the political parties in Finland have supported in the past.

Just one third of respondents indicated support for so-called 'soft' methods of dealing with immigrants, such as integration efforts and development aid, down from 50 percent in the spring.

The author of the tabloid piece crystallizes the results by saying that "the Finns have clearly had enough of terrorism and insecurity".

Have a baby for the fatherland!

And the country's leading paper Helsingin Sanomat dissects a controversial appeal from Social Democratic party chair Antti Rinne on Wednesday for Finns to have more babies. The party's leader asked everyone to chip in to "synnytystalkoot" (roughly calling for a communal effort to increase the birthrate) at the SDP party congress in Kouvola.

"Fewer than 50,000 babies were born in Finland this year, the first time there were so few since the 1860's famine years. This is very serious. No nation can become the best it can be unless it has future generations to safeguard its legacy," he told his party members.

His choice of words was quickly noted and several of his party loyalists took to social media to distance themselves from his comments. MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari wrote on Twitter: "I can't help it, but #synnytystalkoot reminds me of the Third Reich and National Socialism. #sorrycomrades"

MP Sanna Marin said Rinne had made a "terrible choice of words" and SDP youth branch leader Mikkel Näkkäläjärvi tweeted "#ihavenowords".

Green MP Emma Kari had harsher words to say: "I have to say that giving birth is not a nationalist task women should be expected to undertake for the state", while NCP MP and Education Minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen laid into Rinne on Facebook.

"Mind what you are saying, SDP! I don't believe my generation needs advice from Antti Rinne or from anyone else for that matter. I would think the opposition could be a little more discreet. Wanting a child is always a sensitive and highly personal issue," she said.

Rinne was surprised by the backlash to his comment, but stands behind his choice of phrase.

"It might sound old-fashioned, and it may not have been though out very well, but I was getting frustrated that our message wasn't getting across. I figured I would use a word that would encapsulate what I was trying to say and gather some attention."

Finn gets Prime Ministerial apology

And to follow up on a story from our paper review yesterday, the UK newspaper the Guardian has published a letter this morning saying that the Prime Minister Theresa May has apologized about the Home Office mistakenly sending out up to 100 letters to EU citizens in the country telling them to leave the UK or face removal.

This "unfortunate error" now means that Eva Johanna Holmberg, one of the recipients of the letters profiled in Helsingin Sanomat and several other media outlets, has been told by the government that she is free to stay in the country.

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