Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, was pictured during a news conference in Helsinki on 22 December 2015.Martin Scheinin, a professor of public international law and human rights at the European University Institute, has called into question the tactics of Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party.

Scheinin writes on his blog that if Soini wanted a public image free of racism allegations, he would be less generous in his praise of Jussi Halla-aho (PS), a Member of the European Parliament.

He also points out that the predecessor of Soini as Minister for Foreign Affairs, Erkki Tuomioja (SDP), has written daringly about the contributions of Soini to the current attitudinal climate. Tuomioja recently argued on his blog that the attitudinal climate in Finland has been shaped systematically in a direction where hate speech is becoming more acceptable.

“I claim that the single greatest reason for this is the leadership of the Finns Party, which out of its failings and/or opportunism has lacked the courage or willingness to intervene as its rank and file participate openly in the distribution of hate speech – similarly to how other members of the ruling coalition have lacked the willingness to intervene as long as the Finns Party stands behind the decisions of the Government,” Tuomioja wrote on his blog.

“He brought up a touchy subject,” says Scheinin.

“It is vital for Soini that the supporters of his party are able to choose between two opposing lines and yet think that he is of the same opinion as them,” Scheinin writes. “If a speech act is interpreted in its context to constitute incitement to discrimination or violence, it would determine criminal liability – also in the event that the communication was symbolic and occurred on social media.”

Scheinin proposes that a scientifically tested questionnaire about racist attitudes be formulated and sent to all Members of the Parliament. “It is rather befuddling that such a section has yet to be introduced to the increasing number of voter guidance pages. Now would be the time to develop one, in between elections,” he suggests.

His views have already received support from the Finnish Somali League.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilainen / Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi