THE STORY WAS UPDATED
Only the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and Ano Turtiainen’s one-man party expressed opposition to criminalizing the use of the Nazi flag in public. The story by Yle was published a day after the Helsinki District Court dismissed ethnic agitation charges agitation against five men of carrying a swastika flag in public on Independence Day 2018.
PS parliamentary group leader Ville Tavio told Yle that they should not criminalize the use of the Nazi flag.
“In my opinion, our society is not in such a critical [and fragile] state that we need the state to intervene [in this matter],” he said.
Yaron Nadbornik, president of the 1,100-strong Jewish Community of Helsinki, stated that the decision of the Helsinki district court shows that the country still has a long way to go in acknowledging hate crime, and the existence of minorities.
Considering what the Nazi flag symbolizes for Jews and other minorities, Nadbornik said that not a single newspaper had gotten in touch with him about the district court’s decision. He said that the recent case showed the little power the non-discrimination ombudsman has in challenging racism and discrimination.
In an interview in 2020, Nadbornik said that it was not until 2018-2019 when the police started to recognize anti-Semitism as a problem in Finland.
“It is od that even if the non-discrimination ombudsman spoke out in favor of criminalizing the Nazi flag, their position was not weighed by the court,” he said.
Leif Hagert, who is an activist for Roma and minority rights in Finland, was surprised by the district court’s decision.
“The Nazi flag represents hatred and racism,” he said. “I find it hard to understand why such opinions and values need to be proclaimed on the streets. I hope the court of appeal’s ruling is different. [from the district court’s]”
The Roma were also victims of the Holocaust with an estimated 1.5 million perishing during 1935-1945.
Some observers believe that the PS’ stance on the criminalization of the Nazi flag is another indication of the group’s close ideological bonds with the far right and neo-Nazis.