It is a positive sign that President Sauli Niinistö, who has been no friend of cultural diversity in the past, speaks out against the rise of anti-Semitism and racism in Finland on the formal opening of parliament on Wednesday, according to Yle News.
He said: There are signs of anti-Semitism and racism being on the rise, unfortunately also in Finland,” he said. “We must be resolute in opposing them. They do not deserve any foothold in our society.”
And added: “Hate speech, too, generates a myriad of emotions in its targets, from shame to hatred.”
While it is encouraging that President Niinistö has awoken to the threat that racism and hate speech pose in Finland, one hopes that it isn’t too late to change course.
Even if the president didn’t mention any names of parties, analysts saw that he was pointing to the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party.
Another matter that is interesting to note in his speech is that while he mentioned anti-Semitism, he did not say anything about an ever-growing social ill called Islamophobia.
Anti-Islam racism has such a foothold in Finland that it helps minor parties like the PS over a decade ago to become the biggest opposition party today.
Racism is a threat in Finland, irrespective of who the victim is. It is a good matter that President Niinistö finally understands the gravity of the problem.