Vigilante extremist groups in Finland are on the way out but they are a sad mirror of who we are

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The life-and-death story of anti-immigration vigilante groups like the Soldiers of Odin or political parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is simple: create imagined threats to our society, like migrants and asylum seekers, and then set out to “protect” others from the presumed hazard. 

According to Helsingin Sanomat, which interviewed representatives of the police service, vigilante groups in different cities of Finland are either disappearing or don’t exist any longer.


Näyttökuva 2016-6-2 kello 10.36.15
An Estonian Soldier of Odin interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat earlier this spring.

All of this is great news, but it leaves a lingering question: How come these group captured our attention in the first place? Why didn’t our politicians and the media oppose and question more strongly the rise of such groups in the first place?

The answer to the latter is, in my opinion, pretty obvious: Like a mirror, we saw ourselves. In that image our worst fears, prejudices and bigotry were crudely exposed.

Lahti-based daily Etelä-Suomen Sanomat brings us additional good news: The vigilante group in Asikkala, a small town near Lahti, no longer exists.

Even if groups like the Soldiers of Odin are on their way out in Finland, their example has been copied in countries like the United States.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, a USAmerican anti-Semitism and anti-bigotry group founded in 1913, describes the US chapter of the Soldiers of Odin as a white supremacist, anti-Muslim bigoted and extremist group.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We, therefore, prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”