The sources of Finland’s far-right problem: downplaying and denial

by , under Enrique Tessieri

“The main agents of ideological violence are not isolated ‘lone wolves’ but are usually interconnected with communities, non-violent agents and legal entities, at times even including connections to law enforcement personnel.”

Mihai Varga

Over two weeks have elapsed since the police announced the detention of five white-Finn terrorist suspects in the Western Finnish city of Kankaanpää. Reaction to the detention has varied, but one matter is for sure: Denial shrouds our ability to identify and challenge the social ill.

The terrorist suspects of Kankaanpää are no joke. They meant business but does Finland mean business when challenging such groups? Is our exceptionalism blinding us from tackling the social ill? Photo: Police

Denial comes in many ways:

  • The terrorist suspects are a lone detached splinter group
  • Even if the suspects had committed acts of violence and promoted their far-right white nationalist ideology in Kankaanpää before, the rector of the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK), Jari Multisilta, downplayed the threat
  • Contrary to what some students felt that SAMK hadn’t given them enough support, Multisilta was quoted as saying in Yle that there was no threat to the fine arts campus in Kankaanpää by the suspects and that the authorities had not been in touch with the university
  • The fact that the police had not been in contact with SAMK about the threat reveals how they may have downplayed the problem in Kankaanpää
  • In 2015, a new asylum reception center was razed to the ground; we still don’t know who the possible suspects are and if like-minded groups carried it out
  • Yle A-studio airs over a week after the detentions a talk show about far-right violence with researcher Leena Malkki and police Superintendant Jari Tapanen
  • If the detained suspects were Muslims, a talk show and reaction would be much swifter
  • In the talk show, the rise of far-right terrorist violence is blamed on social media and an issue facing young people
  • There is no mention about how Finnish society and the police are responding to the rise of far-right terrorism and ideology
  • There is no mention about how Islamophobia can be a bridge between far-right ideology and terrorism
  • Why didn’t the A-studio program bring up how the rise of populist parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, far-right associations like Suomen Sisu among their ranks and their close links with even neo-Nazi groups promote far-right ideology are fertile ground for acts of terrorism?
  • The PS is the biggest party of the Kankaanpää city council
  • Why do we still know so little about this group and other ones that may be conspiring to carry out acts of terrorism?