According to Finnish President, who addressed racism and anti-Semitism ahead of global threats such as terrorism, hate speech is a major problem in that it generates “a broad scale of emotions” in its targets, from shame to hatred.
Speaking at the formal re-opening of Finland’s parliament, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö called for his nation to show resolve in combating rising racism and anti-Semitism.
Niinistö recalled the the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, which he attended, and noted that even though decades have passed, human nature has not become immune to hatred.
“There are signs of anti-Semitism and racism being on the rise, alas also in Finland. We must be resolute in challenging them. They do not deserve any foothold in our society,” the president declared.
While the Israeli Embassy claimed to have been vandalised on at least 15 occasions in the recent years, there are more recent examples, including the Turku Synagogue daubed with red paint on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Furthermore, the neo-Nazi organisation Towards Freedom held a demonstration in the city of Tampere, which culminated in torching the Israeli flag.
According to Niinistö, racism involves denying the value of others because of their descent and noted that hate speech has very similar roots.
“Hate speech, too, generates a broad scale of emotions in its targets, from shame to hatred,” Niinistö pointed out.