The number of hate crimes reported to police increased by eight per cent year-on-year to 1,165 in Finland in 2017.
The Police University College on Monday published its annual review of hate crime in the country, revealing that over two-thirds (69.8%) of the offences reported last year were motivated by hostility towards ethnic or national origin of the victim and one-fifth (20.2%) by hostility towards the religious convictions of the victim.
Roughly five per cent of the offences were motivated by the disability and one per cent by the transgender identity or appearance of the victim.
The review defines hate crime as a crime committed against a person, group or institution on grounds of their real or perceived ethnic or national background, religion or belief, sexual orientation, transgender identity or appearance, or disability.
The incidence of offences motivated by ethnic or national background or religious conviction spiked particularly in the wake of a terrorist knife attack carried out in Turku, South-west Finland, in August 2017. A similar spike in public hostility towards ethnic, national and religious minorities was registered following the sudden influx of immigrants into Finland in 2015.
“The number of hate crime has decreased and evened out slightly after the spike in 2015, although it remains at a higher than earlier,” Jenita Rauta, a researcher at the Police University College, told Helsingin Sanomat.
Offences motivated by religious convictions were most commonly committed against Muslims.
The Police University College also reported that the majority, or 813, of the 1,165 hate crimes reported to police were motivated by hostility towards the ethnic or national origin of the victim. Such offences were most commonly assaults and took place in a public outdoor place, such as a road or marketplace.
Verbal slander, threats and harassment, however, made up a half (582) of the hate crimes reported last year, following a 42 per cent increase in the incidence of such offences.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT