THIS STORY WAS UPDATED
The Finnish parliament voted Friday not to lift Juha Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity, which needed a five-sixths majority; 121 voted in favor and 54 against. A total of 24 MPs were absent.
Those who voted against were 37 Perussuomalaiset Party MPs, 6 Center Party MPs, 5 Christian Democrat MPs, 4 National Coalition Party MPs, 1 Movement Now MP, 1 MP Ano Turtiainen.
The Finnish parliament (Eduskunta) showed once again its racism, bigotry, and fascism in an over four-hour debate on lifting Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Juha Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
Another worrisome matter that the debate about Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity showed is the snail pace of justice. Prosecutor General Raija Toivianen’s decision to charge Mäenpää for ethnic agitation happened in January, about six months after Mäenpää’s infamous outburst.
One typical complaint by victims of racism, hate speech, and hate crime is that due justice takes too long in Finland.
While it appears that Mäenpää’s immunity will not be lifted on Friday, the likely vote will be another blow to the parliament’s credibility by Finland’s anti-racism, migrant and minority communities.
Mäenpää can lose his parliamentary immunity if five-sixths of parliament or 167 out of 200 MPs vote in favor. The PS can block the proposal with its 38 MPs.
Mäenpää, who is a member of the far-right and Nazi-spirited Suomen Sisu association, has built his political career on far-right nationalism and anti-Muslim racism. In 2015, Mäenpää thanked god for answering his prayers when an asylum reception center was razed to the ground.
Wednesday’s debate in parliament revealed as well how racism, especially Islamophobia, has deep roots in Finland. Left Alliance MP Paavo Arhimäki highlighted some of the excuses given by MPs for Mäenpää’s racist behavior.
According to Arhimäki, some of the excuses used by PS, National Coalition Party, and Christian Democrat MPs were, “choosing his words incorrectly, it was a gag, a joke, a slip [of the tongue], a bad joke, those who don’t understand [what he said] have no sense of humor.”
Social Democratic MP Hussein Al-Tee said that he hoped that members of parliament would stop using labels that Other people like himself.
“I don’t deserve it, nobody else deserves it, and this hall should be a place that unites Finns,” he said and continues later on. “I hope that this hall will not be used to Other people like myself and people belonging to my [ethnic] group.”
Al-Taee pointed the finger at PS Chairperson Jussi Halla-aho, who labeled him last week a fake refugee (partalapsi).
“He [Halla-aho] gave incorrect information about my [refugee] background and It felt really bad [what he said],” he added. “Finns are those people who are ready to commit to our laws, regulations, work and pay taxes. If they are unable to do so, society will help them get on the right road.”
Even if Mäenpää and the PS continue to deny that they didn’t mean to label any group with “invasive species,” few will disagree that he meant asylum seekers and Muslims.
In Finland, asylum seeker is code for Muslim.
According to the National Geographic, “An invasive species is an organism that is not indigenous, or native, to a particular area. Invasive species can cause great economic and environmental harm to the new area.”
PS MPs played down what Mäenpää said as did others of the Christian Democratic Party, National Coalition Party, and Center Party.
PS MPs like Kristian Laakso considered the whole parliamentary debate “nonsense” and a waste of time. “Is this debate worth it ?” he asked.
Another PS MP, Mauri Peltokangas, who is a member of Suomen Sisu, slammed the debate an “inquisition.” PS parliamentary group leader Ville Tavio went as far as to say that if we take steps to limit criticism of Islam, it is a step from being a civilized country to one that is “a stone-age Islamic state.”
Opposition Christian Democrat MP Päivi Räsänen said that lifting Mäenpää’s immunity is questionable since hate speech isn’t clearly outlined in the law (sic).
As mentioned, a number of PS MPs are members of the far-right Suomen Sisu association, which recommends white Finns not to marry outside their group.
Some PS MPs who are Suomen Sisu members include Olli Immonen, Jenna Simula, Mäenpää and Peltokangas, among others who were former members like Halla-aho and Juho Eerola.
Suomen Sisu chairperson Henri Hautamäki published on the same day as the debate in parliament a provocative blog entry titled “Total cultural war.”
While most of the text is a rant for Finnish white supremacist consumption, Hautamäki claims that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a Marxist conspiracy by minorities to destroy Western culture and institutions.
Encouraging people to take action against such a conspiracy, the Suomen Sisu chairperson said that universities and the education system should be “cleaned” of non-nationalistic influences. Other institutions that should come under the control of the people is the media, the role of the state must be changed, according to him.
The only Finnish media to comment about Hautamäki’s column was Kansan Uutiset.