Finnish Kurds gathered in downtown Helsinki on 17 October in a bid to call attention to the need for humanitarian military aid in Syria. The civil war in Syria has already dragged on for three years and recently also stirred up concerns in Finland, with the local Kurdish community, in particular, viewing that it has put a strain on the relations between the various Muslim communities in the country.

The concerns have intensified in recent weeks as the militant group ISIS has continued its aggression in the largely Kurdish town of Kobane in Syria.

On Friday, members of the Kurdish community gathered in central Helsinki to call attention to the situation in Kobani and to encourage Finland to take more decisive action to prevent the recruitment of young people to join jihadist fighters in Syria.

Some of the demonstrators said that they would be prepared to strip people convicted of terrorist offences of their citizenship status. “You should take away passports from people who leave. They will also pose a threat to Finland,” viewed Shawnam Eliassi from Turku.

Welat Nehri, a Kurdish activist, estimated that the hostilities in Syria have put a strain on the relations between Muslim communities in Finland, pointing out that tempers have already frayed especially on social media platforms.

According to him, the Kurds are concerned that not all Muslim communities have condemned the actions of militant groups in Syria firmly enough. “Silence only exacerbates the situation. If the situation continues to exacerbate, it will become a serious problem,” he estimated.

Aishi Zidan – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markus Jokela / HS