Finnish anti-immigration leader calls for support of freedom of expression
Finnish leader Jussi Halla-aho has called for laws to support freedom of expression, saying that legal and economic sanctions for merely expressing one's opinion have become too common.
Published: July 1, 2019, 10:39 am
MEP Jussi Halla-aho has been re-relected for a second two-year term as chair of the anti-immigration Finns Party. The Finns currently have only one seat fewer than Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s Social Democratic Party.
Outlining his policy goals in an speech at a party congress in Tampere, he noted that the Finns was now Finland’s main opposition party. The duty of the party is now to stop “yapping at everything” and rather focus on the shortcomings and mistakes of the centre-left government which came into office in early June.
Halla-aho also encouraged party’s supporters not to not dwell on their differences, but rather to focus on the themes that unite them. He cited immigration and support for the disadvantaged as examples of such uniting issues, reported national broadcaster Yle.
He described the current suffocating mainstream political climate as similar the Soviet Union during the Cold War era.
“In today’s Finland and more broadly in western countries, immigration, Islam, sexual minorities and the European Union have become the new Soviet Union”, Halla-aho said to loud applause. The only response to this climate is a push for the right to freedom of expression, he explained.
In 2009, Halla-aho was fined after calling the Prophet Muhammed a paedophile because of his child-bride Aisha.
According to Halla-aho, the Finns party was “not a populist party”. His predecessor Timo Soini, founder of the Finns and credited with expanding its support, had often used the term “populist” to descibe hos party and its policies.
“We have succeeded in finding the kinds of approaches to issues that unite the interests of different population groups”, Halla-aho said. He describes himself as “ethno-nationalist”, similarly to the Young Finns, the party’s youth wing.
The Young Finns lost state funding earlier this year after a tweet featuring a screenshot from a European parliament ad with a dark-skinned family, calling voters to cast their ballot for the Finns “so that Finland’s future doesn’t look like this”.
Last week, Halla-aho terminated his membership in the organisation Suomen Sisu, of which he has been an honorary member since the 2000s. The Finnish association defines itself as nationalist and patriotic, criticizing unlimited immigration and multiculturalism, and opposes supranational co-operation, especially the European Union.
Suomen Sisu was established as the Youth Organisation of the Association of Finnish Culture and Identity (Suomalaisuuden Liitto) in 1998, but this affiliation was broken in 2000.
The Finns are Finland’s largest opposition party, finishing second with 17,5 percent of the vote in this year’s election and has been topping opinion polls since April’s election.
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