Friday, December 8, 2023

Finland's president warns of rising anti-Semitism, racism in country

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto speaks during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) following their talks at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, 21 August 2019. Russian President Vladimir Putin pays a working visit to Helsinki.

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Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, urged his nation to show resolve in combating rising racism and anti-Semitism.
“There are signs of anti-Semitism and racism being on the rise, alas also in Finland. We must be resolute in challenging them. They do not deserve any foothold in our society”, Niinistö said while addressing Finland’s parliament.
He recalled the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which he attended, and reminded that hate speech is still a major problem in modern times.
Between 1,300 and 1,900 Jews live in Finland. Despite their limited numbers, they are prominent in a number of high offices of state, and constantly face threats.
Last week, Niinistö condemned the two anti-Semitic incidents in his country on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The synagogue in Turku, which is one of the only two synagogues in Finland, was targeted by vandals.
The same day, the neo-Nazi group Towards Freedom burned the Israeli flag in the Finnish city Tampere during a demonstration. The group is considered a branch of the now-banned neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement.
According to Niinistö, everyone should be able to enjoy the same level of protection, including against labels, regardless of whether they belong to majority or minority groups: “If unfounded labels become commonplace, they lose their effect. The phenomenon that we counteract can become commonplace, feel normal”, he warned.

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