Finnish Politician Faces Backlash After Anti-immigration Rant

The Finns, a party in Finland’s ruling coalition, is being urged by the country’s lawmakers and ministers to cut ties with a member who left a vicious rant against multiculturalism on Facebook.

Olli Immonen, a member of The Finns, asked for assistance from his “fellow fighters” in the battle against multiculturalism to defend “one true Finnish nation.”

Four days later, the country awaits an official response from Foreign Minister Timo Soini, leader of The Finns. Erkki Tuomioja, a member of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, suggests Soini’s inability to produce a response to the social media post gives the country a negative image.

“When multiculturalism and diversity are put into question it must be answered loudly,” Tuomioja, who was himself foreign minister for 11 of the past 15 years, said in a phone interview. “There is no such thing as a harmless hate speech, and it’s a short step from there to hate acts. It must not be tolerated.”

Members from other political parties responded by posting of the importance of multiculturalism on their social media pages as well as publishing blogs related to the topic.

The Finns have attempted to tone down their opposition to the euro in recent months as European cooperation and immigration approach mainstream politics. Immonen’s outburst suggests this tactic has been a failure.

Soini remarked to a local newspaper on Monday that disciplinary action with regard to Immonen’s comments is the party’s parliamentary group’s responsibility. The parliamentary group will not meet until after the holiday season.

An event organized in response to Immonen’s comments attracted over 15,000 people on Tuesday. The event’s speakers emphasized the importance of a multicultural Finnish society.

“We have been used to racism, but we must oppose this. We have been silent for too long and it is time to say out loud that it is not ok,” said Turkish-born Ozan Yanar, a Finnish parliamentarian from the opposition Green party.

Source: Tiessalo, Raine, “Anti-immigration rant on Facebook enrages Finnish lawmakers, sparks protest rally,” Chicago Tribute, July 28th, 2015