Foreign Minister and Finns Party chair Timo Soini has condemned a Lahti protester who posed with a Finnish flag while dressed in the robes of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan movement. The individual was one of a group of demonstrators who hurled fireworks and rocks as a group of asylum seekers arrived to take up residence at hastily-arranged accommodation in former army barracks.
The political administration has moved swiftly to condemn the unruly protests in Lahti. In a joint statement issued Friday morning, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Finance Minister Alexander Stubb and Foreign Minister Timo Soini spoke out against the incident, saying that violence and the threat of violence must always be condemned.
«Finland is an international, open and tolerant country where the majority accept migrants,» the statement said.
The troika added that the government and other officials are closely monitoring the situation. A ministerial group responsible for immigration matters will discuss the incidents at its next meeting, they said.
In a separate interview with Yle’s Radio 1 Friday morning, Soini described as «disgusting» the image of the protester holding a Finnish flag and adorned in a white hood and Ku Klux Klan robes.
«There is nothing good about this picture. The Ku Klux Klan is a racist and misanthropic organisation. Linking the Finnish flag with it is disgusting,» Soini told Yle.
Soini: «No one is blameless»
The Foreign Minister speculated that different pockets had emerged in Finnish society and on social media, in which people ignore the views of others with different opinions and incite each other.
«This is also related to other debates apart from the discourse on immigration: things get out of hand and we deliberately misinterpret others, we label others unjustifiably,» Soini commented.
The Finns Party chair pointed to the example of Finance Minister Alexander Stubb, who had received hate mail and whose home had been targeted by vandals.
Soini said that no one was blameless in the current situation and declared that guilty parties could be found within the ranks of the Finns Party as well as among red-green liberals.
The minister said that rational and responsible parties need to step forward and help people to understand where certain boundaries lie.
«We can disagree on immigration policy, but we cannot resort to actions and channels which lead to hatred, ruin and bitterness,» Soini concluded.