Olli Immonen (PS) has aroused resentment across party lines with his remarks about multiculturalism.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) commented on the matter on Twitter on Sunday. “I cannot approve of Immonen's remarks. I want to develop Finland as an open, international, linguistically and culturally rich country,” he wrote.
Immonen wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he is dreaming of a nation that can “defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism”.
Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has yet to comment on the matter or respond to a call-back request from Helsingin Sanomat.
“Sampo Terho (PS) will comment on the matter on behalf of the party leadership. The issue falls under the purview of the chairperson of the parliamentary group because it concerns a regular Member of Parliament,” stated Matti Putkonen, a spokesperson for the Finns Party. “Let's let chairman Timo Soini enjoy his well-deserved holiday.”
Terho, the chairperson of the Finns Party Parliamentary Group, told Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday that the remarks of Immonen will be discussed when the parliamentary group convenes for its first session after the summer break. “The meeting will determine what representatives of a highly-regarded ruling party can post on Facebook.”
He estimated that the remarks of Immonen are harmful to the party.
Several representatives of the Centre and the Social Democrats have urged Soini to break his silence. “Timo Soini seems to be able to not respond to the comments and activities of Olli Immonen and [Immonen's] fellow Nazi sympathisers, but as the Minister for Foreign Affairs he cannot shrug it off with a joke or two abroad,” Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) wrote on Facebook.
Antti Kaikkonen (Centre), the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Soini to show leadership. “It's crucial that Soini voices his opinion on the matter as both a party leader and the Minister for Foreign Affairs,” he said.
Alexander Stubb, the chairperson of the National Coalition and the Minister of Finance, shed light on his views on the matter on Saturday. “I just wanted to say that multiculturalism is an asset,” he tweeted.
A day later, he emphasised that he has no tolerance for direct attacks against openness and democracy. “I'm an advocate of freedom of speech, the right to express your opinions. I don't think anyone should approve of hate speech or violations of human dignity,” he wrote on Facebook.
Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, the deputy chairperson of the National Coalition and the Minister of Education and Culture, commented on the matter on Sunday. “The beliefs of Olli Immonen have nothing to do with those of the Finnish Government,” she wrote on Facebook.
“Finland is an open, tolerant, international country that respects various cultures and perceives them as an asset. The Finnish culture itself is, in fact, a result of multicultural influences and that is how I want it to develop and diversify also in the future.”
Helsingin Sanomat failed to reach Immonen for a comment. Immonen did, however, comment on the uproar by writing on Facebook that “also the Finns Party has, regardless of its current chairperson, been generally critical of multiculturalism and the dispersal of Finnish people and culture”.
Jukka Hiiro, Eeva Palojärvi – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT