Perussuomalaiset (PS) chairman, Timo Soini, reveals in a recent blog that he got four death threats recently. Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen’s Christian Democratic party received a bomb threat as well, which was reported by tabloid Iltalehti. The death threats are similar to what Swedish-language journalists received a while back. Migrant Tales has been a victim of death threats as well.
The question that we should ask in light of the latter is what these threats say about Finland and where we’re heading today as a country.
One matter it says loud and clearly is that our response to intolerance is far from satisfactory. Those that fuel ethnic hatred, racism and make it their business to polarize society between “us” and “them,” believe opportunistically that hate speech can be their political servant.
Ali Esbati, a survivor of 22/7,* when Breivik murdered 77 innocent victims on his Islamophobic rampage in Norway in 2011, was quoted as saying on The Local, which cites an op-ed on Aftonbladet, that Norway had learned little from the massacre. He claimed that the “undergrowth of hateful rhetoric” had recovered from the attacks by Breivik.
Read story here.
While anti-immigration parties in the Nordic region suffered election losses due to Breivik, the approval rating of the anti-immigration Progress Party (FrP) of Norway has swelled today to 20% in the polls.
An editorial on Oulu-based daily Kaleva writes about the death threats against Soini.
”Hate speech has been raging for a long time, and there are among Perussuomalaiset MPs people who have been sentenced for ethnic agitation. From the mouthes of the Perussuomalaiset we’ve read uncensored text that is written off as humor.
Death threats show that the hate speech can travel the other way. The party’s figurehead Soini is the victim of such a situation.”
To use a recent example of how the PS fuels hatred in Finland, one of its MPs, James Hirvisaari, published on Facebook the wonderful time he spent with Seppo Lehto, a far right agitator who was imprisoned for inciting ethnic hatred.
On the same weekend, he said in a tweet that a reporter working for tabloid Iltalehti ”masturbated wildly” when he was interviewed by him on the phone.
Add to the latter the near-constant hate speech against gays, elites, immigrants, and groups like Muslims from parties like the PS and a broader worrisome picture emerges of the problem.
Intolerance breeds more intolerance until it snaps like on 22/7 or turns into something more sinister like Germany 1933.
*I was surprised to see The Local use 22/7 to describe the mass murders that took place in Norway in 2011. Using a date for a tragedy is a way to honor and respect the victims.