Wednesday’s attack by neo-Nazi thugs at a book presentation in Jyväskylä is a wakeup call to the growing menace of far right violence in Finland. Was what happened in the central Finnish city a surprise?
The answer is no if you ask researcher Vesa Puuronen of the University of Eastern Finland.
”When we consider recent political and ideidological developments in Finland and Europe,” he was quoted as saying on YLE in English, ”then this is by no means a surprising incident.”
Considering that a group of suspected neo-Nazi Suomen Kansalinen Vastarinta (SKV) members tried to disrupt a peaceful meeting where people were exercising their right to meet and express themselves is a cause for concern.
In many respects the rise of far right and neo-Nazi (see Hungary and Greece) are fuelling and emboldening likeminded groups in Finland. It would be naive to think that we are some island immune to their ideology.
One has only to go back to the April 2011 election, when the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party won a historic election victory to become Finland’s third-largest party in parliament.
While not all PS MPs and party members belong to the far right, a group led by MP Jussi Halla-aho pretty much dictates policy on immigration and cultural diversity. Their view of on these issues is similar to other far right groups in Europe like the Sweden Democrats and Danish People’s Party.
As long as politicians, civil leaders, policy makers and the general public remain quiet and play down the threat that far right groups in this country, we’ll be emboldening them to new acts of violence. Racism, xenophobia and prejudice are some of the fuels that these groups thrive on to grow.
What happened in Jyväskylä is not only disgraceful, but a directattack against all of us who believe in the rule of law.